results of the nationwide study of homeless people carried out in Denmark were
published in the Lancet, a leading medical journal. 32 711 homeless
people were included in the study. Researchers
confirmed high rates
of psychiatric disorders among the homeless population.
62 per cent of homeless men and 58 per cent of homeless
women had psychiatric disorders.
Life was found to be shorter for the homeless!
expectancy for homeless people aged 15 to 24 was 22 years less for men and 17
years less for women when compared to the general population. This disparity in
life expectancy is much higher than what was found out by previous studies.
Substance abuse was the most frequent
diagnosis among men and women
. This was
associated with the highest risk of
death. It produced a 70 per cent increased risk of death for homeless women and
a 40 per cent increased risk of death for homeless men. Surprisingly, this
value is much higher than the damage caused by factors such as violence and
Now these statistics belong to Denmark, a developed country ranked as having the world's highest level of income equality. Imagine the results that a similar study in
India would produce. Despite
being hailed as an engine of growth and instrument of globalization, our
country is home to lakhs of homeless! The 2001 census had registered a total
urban homeless population of 7, 78,599 people.
current study is not devoid of flaws. Homeless people are a transient
population and, because of their insufficient accommodation, are difficult to
sample and monitor, the authors agree. The term 'homeless' used in the study
covered people 'who either are living in or have a history of staying in a
homeless shelter during the study period.' So this definitely means that people
who were 'transiently homeless' should have made into the study. The study did not include
homeless people who avoided shelters.
"This study underlines that this marginalized
population needs more attention on the health agenda," the study authors
Psychiatric disorders and mortality among people in homeless shelters in
Denmark: a nationwide register-based cohort study; Sandra Feodor et al; The
URBAN POVERTY REPORT 2009