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Health Risk Factors and Desire to Change among Homeless Adults

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Objectives: The prevalence of smoking, at-risk alcohol use, overweight/obesity, inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption, and inadequate physical activity was examined among homeless adults. Desire to change these modifiable health risk factors and the association between desire to change and self-rated health also were examined. Methods: A sample of 394 homeless adults completed computer-based questionnaires (read over headphones) that assessed sociodemographic characteristics, health risk factors, desire to address health risk factors, and self-rated health. Results: Participants were primarily men (71.8%) and African Americans (62.8%). Most participants were current smokers (75.9%), 31.0% were at-risk drinkers, 58.8% were over-weight or obese, 66.2% consumed fewer than 5 fruits and vegetables per day, and 29.9% had insufficient physical activity. With the exception of at-risk drinking, more than half of those with each health risk factor reported a desire to address that factor. Poorer self-rated health was associated with desire to reduce drinking (p = .023) and increase fruit and vegetable consumption (p = .027); it was marginally related to desire to lose weight (p = .057). Conclusions: Although the prevalence of modifiable health risk factors in homeless adults is high, the desire to change many risk factors is also high, indicating the need for relevant interventions for homeless adults.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health, Dallas, TX, USA 2: University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA 3: University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA 4: University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA. [email protected]

Publication date: July 1, 2016

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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