Melody Chow

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Dr. Cheryl Forchuk

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Osuch

Third Advisor

Dr. Piotr Wilk


Youth homelessness is becoming an increasingly prevalent concern. Homeless youth

commonly leave home due to a dysfunctional, often abusive, family life. While homeless, these youth are increasingly vulnerable to a higher level of severity of mental health issues. Homeless youth generally lack a support network. The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of social determinants of health, specifically history of violence, quality of social relationships and quality of family relationships, on the mental health of homeless youth. The relationship between these variables and the overall mental illness severity of a homeless younger (16 to 30 years) group (n=144) and a homeless older (31 to 72 years) group (n=241) was examined by analysing data from a 2001-2005 Community-University Research Alliance on housing and mental health. Structural equation modelling was used to examine within group differences and between group differences of the two age groups, as well as post hoc subgroup analyses based on sex and on age plus sex. There were no statistically significant differences between the younger and older groups, suggesting that the issues associated with homelessness impact both age groups. However, statistically significant within group results emphasized the clinical importance of the impact of age and social determinants of health on the mental health status of homeless youth. By recognizing these clinically significant findings, practitioners can have an improved understanding of the unique situation of homeless youth, and improve the policy and initiatives to support them better



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