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An Exploratory Study of the Relationship between Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Youth Homelessness

  • Author(s): Harding, Blake
  • et al.

A 1997 study by Lomas and Garside suggests a 62% prevalence rate of ADHD amongst homeless, which prompts a need for further elucidation of this relationship. This thesis study sought to examine the relationship between Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and the homeless youth population aged 18-24. The overall focus was to investigate the prevalence rate of ADHD in homeless youth 18-24 and to examine the relationship between ADHD diagnosis (utilizing WURS and ASRSv1.1) and relational variables. A structured survey instrument was developed to collect interview data on demographics, employment status, substance abuse and housing instability variables. Twenty-four homeless youths (n=24, 20 males, 4 females; age range, 18-24, mean age=21.71 years) were randomly approached (n=85 approached) and verbally screened for study inclusion based upon reported age between 18 to 24 years. Participants were administered the ASRS-v1.1 and WURS dichotomous response structured survey instruments to determine ADHD diagnosis. Study data suggests a higher prevalence of ADHD in ages 18-21 (WURS 75%; ASRS-v1.1 88%) than ages 22-24 (WURS 56%; ASRS-v1.1 88%). Data suggests a marginally higher rate of ADHD diagnosis in males (ASRS-v1.1 95%; WURS 75%) than females (ASRS-v1.1 75%; WURS 75%). Participants in the 18-21-age cohort experienced an average of 68 days of housing instability while participants in the 22-24-age cohort experienced a proportionally higher average of 278 days of housing instability. Both age cohorts (18-21 and 22-24) suggested a 100% rate of unemployment and substance abuse. The majority of participants were Caucasian (18-24 88%; 22-24 94%; sample mean, 89%) with marginal African-Americans (18-21 13%; 22-24 6%; same mean, 5%) and other identified ethnicities (6%; age cohort 22-24). Data suggests a higher prevalence of ADHD in homeless youth aged 18-21 (WURS 75%; ASRS-v1.1 88%) that were newly homeless (avg. days experienced housing instability, 68), which may suggest that ADHD symptomatology could be a vulnerability factor influencing youth homelessness.

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