Objective: There is a dearth of research examining the health correlates of tobacco use within the homeless population, particularly with respect to homeless Veterans. An aim of the present study was to compare homeless Veteran and homeless non-Veteran smokers across a series of socio-demographic and health variables, and to determine whether any of these variables were independently associated with Veteran status. A subsequent aim was to compare the socio-demographic and health profiles of Veteran smokers and Veteran nonsmokers, and to determine whether any of these variables were independently associated with current smoking. Methods: Data were obtained from the 2009 Homelessness in Minnesota survey conducted by the Wilder Research Foundation. The final sample included 4750 homeless individuals living throughout Minnesota. Results: The prevalence of smoking was greater among homeless Veterans (74%) than homeless non-Veterans (70%). The prevalence of physical and mental health problems was higher among homeless Veteran smokers than homeless non-Veteran smokers, although these variables were not independently associated with Veteran status after controlling for socio-demographics. Analyses of the homeless Veteran sample indicated that receipt of Veterans' benefits, type of discharge, and alcohol and/or chemical dependence were independently associated with current smoking. Conclusion: Homeless Veteran smokers exhibit heightened rates of physical and mental health problems compared to homeless non-Veteran smokers. Military service and discharge characteristics may contribute to this high smoking prevalence. Future efforts should focus on increasing Veterans' access to and knowledge of Veterans' health resources, and on developing innovative strategies to boost cessation in this population.
- Health disparities
- Homeless persons