The impact of a Housing First intervention and health-related risk factors on incarceration among people with experiences of homelessness and mental illness in Canada
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OBJECTIVE: To examine the effect of a Housing First (HF) intervention and health-related risk factors on incarceration among adults with experiences of homelessness and mental illness. METHODS: Participants (N = 508) were recruited at the Toronto site of the At Home/Chez Soi study. The outcome was incarceration in Ontario from 2009 to 2014. Exposures were intervention group (HF vs. treatment as usual), Axis I mental health diagnoses, emergency department (ED) visit, and history of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Logistic regression was used to examine the association between exposures and incarceration. RESULTS: Of 508 participants, 220 (43.3%) were incarcerated at least once during the study period. Among those incarcerated, 81.9% were male, 52.7% had been diagnosed with alcohol dependence/abuse, 60.9% had been diagnosed with substance dependence/abuse, 65.1% reported having visited an ED within the last 6 months, and 66.4% had a history of TBI. After adjusting for demographic covariates, substance dependence/abuse (aOR: 2.06; 95% CI: 1.40, 3.03), alcohol dependence/abuse (aOR: 1.52, 95% CI: 1.04, 2.22), ED visit (aOR: 1.54; 95% CI: 1.02, 2.32), and history of TBI (aOR: 2.60; 95% CI: 1.75, 3.85) were associated with incarceration. We found no significant effect of the HF intervention on incarceration outcome (aOR: 1.08; 95% CI: 0.76, 1.55). CONCLUSIONS: Among adults with experiences of homelessness and severe mental illness, those with substance and alcohol dependence/abuse disorders, history of TBI, and recent ED visits were at increased odds of incarceration. Strategies are needed to prevent and reduce incarceration for this population, including treatment of mental illness in the community.
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