Research Article

Census of single homeless people in Sheffield.

BMJ 1991; 302 doi: (Published 08 June 1991) Cite this as: BMJ 1991;302:1387
  1. S L George,
  2. N J Shanks,
  3. L Westlake
  1. Department of Public Health Medicine, University of Sheffield Medical School.


    OBJECTIVE--To determine the number of single homeless people in Sheffield and to examine their demography and social and medical details. DESIGN--Census carried out between 8 am and 8 pm on one day. Participants completed a questionnaire designed to provide data relating to employment history, contact with welfare and health services, social state, prison history, medical history, and health state. SETTING--Sites in Sheffield identified by local workers as being places of residence of homeless people. SUBJECTS--340 single homeless people. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Self reported history of alcohol or drug misuse, existence of a chronic medical condition, and use of general practitioner and hospital services. RESULTS--The mean age of the population was 42.5 years and a quarter of the population were aged less than 30; there were 48 women. Significant differences were noted between men and women with respect to self reported psychiatric illness (77/266 men v 27/42 women), self reported alcoholism (83/273 v 4/44), prison history (152/255 v 8/41), and registration with a general practitioner (73/275 v 38/46). Various chronic medical conditions were reported, and the perceived health state of the population was low; 129 claimed to have been admitted to a psychiatric hospital. 220 people were registered with a general practitioner, and 179 claimed to see their doctor. Sixty five had attended or been admitted to a general hospital in the month preceding the study, 45 for accident and emergency services. CONCLUSIONS--The homeless in this population were younger than those found in previous studies. The prevalence of psychiatric illness was high in the population, and the overall health state was poor. Most subjects obtained health services from general practitioners.