BACKGROUND Some authors have argued that hostels for homeless people are increasingly taking over the role of psychiatric long-stay wards, and that this creates a problem. We set out to test this hypothesis.
METHOD The social disablement of a random sample of 101 homeless men, described in Part 1, was compared with that of a sample of 66 psychiatric patients from a long-stay ward.
RESULTS The study sample rated significantly lower for social disablement than the long-stay ward sample. Thirteen subjects of the hostel sample had psychotic social behaviour problems. These had no history of being long-stay psychiatric patients.
CONCLUSIONS The hostel sample differ significantly in their social disablement from the chronic psychiatric patients. There is a small proportion of severely disturbed residents who might have been over-represented in previous non-random surveys.