Abstract

Objective. Service delivery through community-based programs is the future of occupational therapy. This study examined independent living skills, traumatic experiences, and symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in a sample of women residing in a supportive housing program for women and families who are homeless in order to determine the needs of this population and the possible role of occupational therapy in such a community-based program.

Method. Twenty-four women residing in a supportive housing shelter in Kansas City, Missouri, volunteered to participate in this study. The participants were evaluated for independent living skills with the Kohlman Evaluation of Living Skills. A structured interview format was used to determine whether participants experienced a trauma and whether they met diagnostic criteria for PTSD.

Results. Results indicated that women who are homeless have deficits in independent living skills, especially in the area of money management. Results also indicated that traumatic experiences and PTSD are more prevalent among women who are homeless than among women in the general population. The relationship between independent living skills and PTSD among women who are homeless was not made clear by this study.

Conclusion. The information gathered in this study underscores the importance of identifying and addressing occupational and mental health issues of women who are homeless. Results suggest that occupational therapists have a major role to play, evaluating and facilitating independent living skills, as members of multidisciplinary treatment teams in supportive housing programs for persons who are homeless.

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