Hardiness And Homelessness: A Strengths-based Perspective Of Service Use By Veterans Who Are Homeless
Petrovich, James C.
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The purpose of this study was to expand the current knowledge base regarding the use of services by veterans who are homeless. Informed by existing gaps in the scientific literature, it recruited a systematic sample from a low-demand urban shelter and applied a strengths-based perspective by evaluating whether the personality construct of hardiness predicted utilization of assistance services. It also utilized a group of non-veteran homeless men to serve as a comparison group on key variables including demographic characteristics, hardiness, service utilization, mental and physical health functioning, and history of substance abuse problems. Framed within the Behavioral Model of Health Services Use, multiple linear regression was used to evaluate if hardiness predicted the use of five distinct assistance service sectors by veterans who are homeless. It was also used to determine if veteran status predicted higher levels of hardiness. Consistent with existing research, results indicated veteran and non-veteran men who are homeless continued to be significantly different in terms of basic demographic characteristics and use of assistance services. Significant differences also existed in the use of VA versus non-VA services by veterans who are homeless. Other key findings indicated veterans and non-veterans were remarkably similar when compared on hardiness, mental; and physical functioning, and a history of substance abuse problems. Results of hypothesis testing indicated hardiness did not significantly predict the use of services. However, other enabling and need-based factors included in the regression models significantly predicted the use of services. Additional hypothesis testing indicated veteran status did not significantly predict higher levels of hardiness. Discussion includes an assessment of hardiness as a predictor of service use by veterans who are homeless. Using the Behavioral Model, it was also possible to utilize the results of the regression analyses to make an assessment of service system access and equity. In addition to the use of services by veterans who are homeless, differences and similarities identified between the veteran and non-veteran study groups are also explored. Limitations and strengths of the study are identified and implications are offered for social work practice, social welfare policy, and additional social work research.