Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. Cheryl Forchuk


Canadians experiencing homelessness often live with severe substance use (Aubry et al., 2015; Khandor & Mason, 2007). Health challenges related to severe substance use contribute to the early mortality experienced by homeless Canadians (Hwang, Wilkins, Tjepkema, O’Campo & Dunn, 2009). This population also experience health and social system disadvantages. Using General Systems Theory, relationships between substance use severity and access to health care, housing stability, therapeutic relationship and quality of family and friends relationships were explored as elements of health and social systems. A correlational secondary analysis examined this in a sample of 65 individuals accessing housing first. Relationships were not found between health and social systems and substance use severity. However, other important relationships were found relating to addiction and homelessness, access to health care and therapeutic relationship and quality of social and family relationships. These findings have important implications for nursing practice and Canada’s response in addressing homelessness.