Not all homeless women are alike: Effects of motherhood and the presence of children

Elizabeth M. Smith, Carol S North

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Previous work suggests that the population of homeless women is a heterogenous group, and that motherhood and the presence or absence of children define subgroups that may be distinct. The current study is a systematic study of 300 homeless women (90% of whom were mothers) according to these suggested subgroupings. Mothers whose children were with them, compared to other women, were younger and often unemployed and welfare dependent. Mothers without their children had higher rates of nonsubstance Axis I disorders (48%) and alcoholism (33%), and 72% had a lifetime psychiatric diagnosis. Homeless mothers whose children are not with them represent a deviant subgroup with more personal (and fewer social) vulnerabilities to homelessness and may represent a target population for focus of psychiatric treatment efforts. Mothers with their children may benefit more from increased attention to social services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-610
Number of pages10
JournalCommunity Mental Health Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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