Adversity and children experiencing family homelessness: implications for health

J. J. Cutuli, Sandra M. Ahumada, Janette E. Herbers, Theresa L. Lafavor, Ann S. Masten, Charles N. Oberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


This study tests links between adversity and health problems among children in family emergency housing. Children who experience family homelessness are at risk to also experience high levels of stress, health problems, and need for pediatric care. Understanding the connection between stress and health holds the potential to reduce persistent health disparities. Analyses tested whether experiencing a greater number of stressful life events during the early years of life was related to worse health conditions, emergency health-care utilization, and hospitalizations. Parents noted children’s experience of negative stressful life events, health problems, emergency room (ER) use, and hospitalization. Two cohorts of kindergarten-aged children staying in emergency family housing participated in the study in 2006–2007 (n = 104) and in 2008–2009 (n = 138), with the results examined separately. In both cohorts, more health problems were acknowledged for children exposed to more negative stressful life events. Stressful life events were not related to ER use but did relate to hospitalization for the 2006–2007 cohort. Results affirm links between stress in early childhood and health problems among children living in emergency housing. Findings are consistent with the hypothesis that adversity in early childhood contributes to income and racial disparities in health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-55
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Children and Poverty
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS), Application #0745643 (Budget Start: 2008-05-15; Budget End: 2013-04-30 Fiscal Year 2007); the other two grants listed are actually predoctoral fellowships. JJ Cutuli's was specifically NIMH Predoctoral Trainee Fellowship in Developmental Psychopathology. I'm not sure if Open Funder registry includes such awards, which might account for why they can't be cross referenced. These are the correct numbers and the authors have included them in prior publications.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Homeless children
  • health status disparities
  • health-care disparities
  • life stress


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