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OBJECTIVE: To carry out a preliminary assessment of the use of a psychiatric screening tool in an urban homeless population, and to estimate the potential prevalence of undiagnosed and (or) unmanaged mental illness in this population. METHODS: Participants (n = 166) were recruited from the Calgary Drop-in and Rehab Centre to complete a questionnaire containing 6 modules screening for common psychiatric disorders. Summary statistics were used in the analysis. RESULTS: Only 12 respondents (7%) screened negative on each of the 6 modules. The screening process determined that 60.2% of the sample (n = 100) had probable mental illness but reported no history of psychiatric diagnosis or treatment. CONCLUSIONS: A straightforward application of screening (in which screen-positive subjects are referred for assessment) would be difficult in this population as most will screen positive. The results highlight the tremendous burden of psychiatric symptoms in this population.

Original publication




Journal article


Can J Psychiatry

Publication Date





353 - 360


homelessness, mental illness, psychiatric screening, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Alberta, Alcoholism, Community Mental Health Services, Comorbidity, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Homeless Persons, Humans, Male, Mass Screening, Mental Disorders, Middle Aged, Substance-Related Disorders, Urban Population, Vulnerable Populations, Young Adult