Stigmatized identities, psychological distress, and physical health: Intersections of homelessness and race.

This study of a racially and ethnically diverse group of homeless adults examined the relationship between perceived homelessness stigma and psychological distress, physical health, and avoidance of services. We also explored independent and interactive effects of perceived racial stigma and homelessness stigma on these outcomes for members of racially stigmatized groups. Women (n = 73) and men (n = 65) experiencing homelessness (81 Persons of Color, 57 White) completed survey questions about stigma, mental and physical health, service avoidance, and background characteristics. Homelessness stigma predicted greater psychological distress, poorer physical health, and increased avoidance of services after controlling for gender, race, age, chronic mental illness status, and time homeless. For Persons of Color, perceived racial and homelessness stigma interacted in predicting outcomes: among those reporting low and moderate levels of racial stigma, homelessness stigma predicted psychological distress and poor health, whereas for those reporting high levels of racial stigma, psychological and physical health was poor regardless of the level of homelessness stigma. Additionally, perceived racial stigma from service providers predicted higher levels of service avoidance. Persons of Color also reported higher levels of racial stigma than did White respondents. Glaring racial disparities in homelessness make understanding and addressing the burdens of racism for individuals experiencing homelessness a social justice imperative. Our findings suggest that social stigma and the intersections among stigmatized identities are important for understanding health and health-related behaviors in this vulnerable population. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)