Changes in Maternal Health and Health Behaviors as a Function of Homelessness

Jung Min Park, Stephen Metraux, Angela Fertig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This longitudinal study examines the influence of homelessness on maternal health and health behaviors. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, it follows 2,631 families from 20 large US cities over 5 years. Over that period, 9.8 percent of the sample reportedly experienced at least one homeless spell and an additional 23.6 percent experienced one or more doubled-up episodes. Estimated rates of disability, depression, and anxiety are two to three times higher for the homeless group than for those with no homeless spell. Mothers who become homeless are found to have poorer health outcomes both before and after homelessness. The study’s findings suggest that homelessness has a modest but distinct effect on maternal health outcomes. They also suggest that mothers who have young, low-income families and health problems, particularly behavioral health problems, can be promising targets for interventions designed to prevent or divert individuals from homelessness.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-585
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Service Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2011


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