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HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Cumulative Trauma Exposure and Chronic Homelessness Among Veterans: The Roles of Responses to Intrusions and Emotion Regulation

July, 2020
Article:

This paper explores the relationship between cumulative trauma exposure and chronic homelessness among veterans.

Abstract

Veterans with mental health problems and a history of interpersonal and military trauma exposure are at increased risk for chronic homelessness. Although studies have examined posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a predictor of homelessness, there is limited understanding of specific mechanisms related to cumulative trauma exposure. We sought to elucidate how cumulative interpersonal and military trauma exposure may be linked to homelessness chronicity by examining the role of factors that influence trauma recovery and functional impairment. Specifically, we examined the indirect association of cumulative trauma exposure with homelessness chronicity through distress and responses to trauma‐related intrusions and emotion regulation problems in a sample of 239 veterans in community‐based homeless programs. Participants completed measures of trauma exposure, responses to intrusions, intrusion distress, difficulties with emotion regulation, and duration and episodes of homelessness. Structural equation modeling was used to test a serial indirect effect model in which cumulative trauma exposure was indirectly associated with homelessness chronicity through distress from and responses to intrusions as well as emotion regulation problems. The results supported the hypothesized sequential indirect effect for episodes of homelessness, indirect effect odds ratio (IE ORs) = 1.12–1.13, but not for current episode duration, IE OR = 1.05. Overall, the present findings elucidate specific trauma‐related factors that may be particularly relevant to episodic patterns of homelessness and interfere with efforts to remain housed. These findings represent an important step toward shaping policy and program development to better meet mental health care needs and improve housing outcomes among homeless veterans.

Full Reference

Macia, K.S., Moschetto, J.M., Wickham, R.E., Brown, L.M. and Waelde, L.C. (2020), Cumulative Trauma Exposure and Chronic Homelessness Among Veterans: The Roles of Responses to Intrusions and Emotion Regulation. JOURNAL OF TRAUMATIC STRESS, 33: 1017-1028. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22569

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