Head injury and mortality in the homeless

Thomas M McMillan, Marie Laurie, Michael Oddy, Mark Menzies, Elaine Stewart, Jessica Wainman-Lefley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Risk factors for head injury are also risk factors for becoming homeless but there is little research on this vulnerable group, who can be neglected by health services that specialize in acquired brain injury. This study investigates the prevalence of admissions to hospital with a head injury in the homeless and associations with later mortality. It compares homeless people with and without a record of hospitalized head injury (HHI) and the Glasgow population. Data were obtained from a U.K. National Health Service strategy to enhance care of the homeless. This included development and production of local registers of homeless people. In Glasgow, the initiative took place over a seven-year period (2004-2010) and comprised 40 general practitioner (family practice) services in the locality of 55 homeless hostels. The register was linked to hospital admissions with head injury recorded in Scottish Medical Records and to the General Register of Scotland, which records deaths. A total of 1590 homeless people was registered in general practitioner (family doctor) returns. The prevalence of admission to hospital with head injury in the homeless over a 30-year period (13.5%) was 5.4 times higher than in the Glasgow population. In the homeless with HHI, 33.6% died in the seven-year census period, compared with 13.9% in the homeless with no hospitalized HI (NHHI). The standardized mortality ratio for HHI (4.51) was more than twice that for NHHI (2.08). The standardized mortality ratio for HHI aged 15-34 (17.54) was particularly high. These findings suggest that HHI is common in the homeless relative to the general population and is a risk factor for late mortality in the homeless population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-9
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniocerebral Trauma
  • Female
  • Homeless Persons
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Scotland
  • Young Adult
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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