Epidemiology of Homeless/Indigent People with Mental Illness Vulnerable populations are defined in many ways. Variables of the definition are dependent on the author, their current location and how they believe that they may assist this population. Vulnerability as defined in a healthcare setting are those with a greater than average risk of developing health problems by virtue of their marginalized sociocultural status, their limited access to economic resources, or personal characteristics such as age and gender (DeChesnay & Anderson, 2008). Vulnerable populations in Jacksonville, North Carolina, are the homeless and indigent veterans with mental illness. Jacksonville, North Carolina, is a military town with three military bases in the county and one 40 miles to the north of it. The populations that live in the town are active duty military and their families, transplants to the area via military affiliation, and retirees. Homeless is a term used for a person who does not have a home or permanent place to live but does not necessarily mean living on the streets. Homeless can be someone who is staying with some else on a temporary bases because of lack of shelter. Homeless veterans with mental illness exist in and around any military base but are very much of concern in this area. According to, The Department of Veteran Affairs, there is no casual link between being a veteran and being homeless (Khan, 2009). The increases in the area of homeless seem to be military affiliated and suffer from varying forms of mental illness.
Mental illness is a broad name for conditions that affect a person normal cognitive ability to make reasonable judgments, process emotions and may affect a person each day behavior. It can affect a persons’ mood, thoughts, and behaviors causes impairment in functioning. Understanding of the area of mental illness comes from research in the field of epidemiology; the scientific study of patterns of health and illness within a population ("National Institute of Mental Health," 2012). Each area of specialty involving disease and healthcare can contribute to findings to research. Research on psychiatric epidemiology shows that mental disorders are common throughout the United States, affecting tens of millions of people each year, and that only a fraction of those affected receive treatment ("National Institute of Mental Health," 2012). Using the sound steps of the epidemiology process through research, two steps are essential, descriptive, and analytical research phases. Descriptive epidemiology aims to identify the who, what, when, and where. It focuses on an individual person, place, and time. Analytical Epidemiology is the development and evaluation of research hypotheses concerning the effects of risk factors (genetic, behavioral, environmental, and health care) on human health ("College of Health Professions and Social Work: Temple University," 2012), the origins, and causes of a particular disease. The Epidemiology triangle is based on the research of communicable disease but can be adapted to research the cycle of mental illness that can contribute to homelessness. The epidemiology triangle consist of three parts, the agent, the host, and the environment with the time the center, taking into consideration and incubation period. The agent, the cause of the disease can be biological from either, bacteria or virus, chemical from poison, alcohol or smoke, physical from trauma, radiation or fire, and nutritional from lack of or an excess of. The host, the organism of the disease takes into consideration the age, sex, race, religion, customs, occupation, genetic profile, martial status, family background, prior disease history, and immune status. The environment includes existing surroundings, and there temperature, humidity, altitude, crowding, housing, particular neighborhood, water supply, food supply, presence of radiation, noise index, and air pollution. The primary mission of epidemiology is to...
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