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Open Access Health Risk Factors in American Indian and Non-Hispanic White Homeless Adults

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND licence.

Objectives: American Indians (AIs) are over-represented among homeless populations, but are understudied regarding their unique risk and resilience factors relative to non-Hispanic white (NHW) adults experiencing homelessness. In the current study, we aimed to address this gap. Methods: We recruited participants (108 AIs and 307 NHWs) from 6 homeless serving agencies in Oklahoma City, OK. Participants completed standard assessments of health, health behaviors, including alcohol and drug use, readiness to change endorsed health behaviors (eg, unsafe sex, fruit and vegetable intake, happiness with weight, physical activity), sleep location and quality, personal victimization, and discrimination. Results: Compared to NHWs, AIs endorsed greater alcohol use problems and were more likely to report having been arrested/booked for disorderly conduct or public drunkenness; however, AIs were less likely to report smoking cigarettes and reported greater readiness to change unsafe/unprotected sexual behaviors. Furthermore, compared to NHWs, AIs reported experiencing greater discrimination and were more likely to report sleeping outside or on the streets, versus in shelters; however, AIs reported fewer days of inadequate sleep. Conclusions: Findings suggest AI-specific risk and resilience factors for homelessness. This information can aid in treatment, service, and housing planning for this under-studied group who experiences some of the greatest health disparities.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK;, Email: [email protected] 2: Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 3: Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences, University of Houston, Houston, TX 4: Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

Publication date: September 1, 2020

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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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