Abstract: Personality Traits in a Nationally Representative Sample of Adults Experiencing Past-Year Homelessness: A Latent Class Analysis (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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204P Personality Traits in a Nationally Representative Sample of Adults Experiencing Past-Year Homelessness: A Latent Class Analysis

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Nathaniel Dell, AM, MSW, PhD Candidate, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, MO
Vaughn Michael, PhD, Professor, Saint Louis University
Michael A. Mancini, PhD, Associate Professor, Saint Louis University
Brandy Maynard, PhD, Associate Professor, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO
Huang Jin, PhD, Professor, Saint Louis University
Background and purpose: Latent class analysis (LCA), a statistical technique to identify subgroups of persons based on their responses to pre-selected indicators, has increasingly been used to generate typologies of persons experiencing homelessness (PEH). Typologies may be useful for tailoring service provision to the needs of different subgroups. Presently, no studies have used LCA to distinguish subgroups of PEH based on personality traits and to explore the relationship between personality and psychopathology in this group. This is problematic as high rates of personality disorder (PD) have been identified in PEH. PD is often comorbid with other psychopathology and can contribute to poorer quality of life outcomes. The present study identifies subgroups of adults with past-year homelessness by personality traits and explores the relationship of personality subgroups to psychopathology.

Methods: The analytic sample included respondents reporting past-year homelessness (N = 704) from the third wave of the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC-III). Twenty-four personality traits were preselected as indicator variables for the LCA, corresponding with DSM-5 borderline, schizotypal, and antisocial PD. Bayesian Information Criterion, Akaike’s Information Criterion, log likelihood, and bootstrapped likelihood ratio test (BLRT) were examined to aid in determining the best fitting model. One- to five-latent class models were estimated. Model selection was informed by prior theory and the interpretability of class solutions. Multinomial regression was conducted to test differences in class membership by behavioral health characteristics, specifically lifetime mood and anxiety disorders, PTSD, AUD, SUD, and suicide attempt. Analyses were weighted to account for the NESARC-III’s complex sampling design.

Results: The four-class solution was optimal. The largest class (35.44%) is characterized by high levels of all personality traits relative to other classes, especially paranoia and suspiciousness, unusual behaviors or appearance, intense and unstable relationships, impulsivity, norm violations and anger, and irritability. The second-largest class (26.51%) was also characterized by high levels of impulsivity, risk taking behavior, norm violations, but had substantially lower traits that typically characterize BPD and SPD. The third-largest class is characterized by minimal personality impairment (24.40%). The final class is characterized by relational instability and identity diffusion (13.65%). The uniformly severe class had statistically significantly higher risk of all psychiatric conditions relative to the minimal impairment class. The class characterized by impulsivity and norm violations had significantly higher risk of AUD (RRR = 2.38, 95%CI: 1.40, 4.05) and SUD (RRR = 6.55, 95%CI: 2.71, 15.82). The group characterized by identity diffusion and relational instability had higher risk of mood (RRR = 3.85, 95%CI: 1.76, 8.46) and anxiety (RRR = 4.90, 95%CI: 1.69, 14.23) disorders as well as lifetime suicide attempt (RRR = 3.10, 95%CI: 1.15, 8.35).

Conclusions and Implications: The present study explored subtypes of personality traits among a representative sample of adults reporting past-year homelessness, finding four distinct classes with differential relationships to several behavioral health conditions. PEH may benefit from intervention to promote healthy personality functioning. Clinicians and homeless service workers should consider assessment of personality traits and functioning to effectively engage potential clients into treatment services.