BACKGROUND This study surveyed all residents in a hostel for homeless women. Demographic data, and information on past and present psychiatric and social morbidity, and current and premorbid cognitive functioning were collected.
METHOD A four week prevalence study, using: SCID-PD; a semi-structured interview; GHQ; SBS; Manchester Scale; MMSE; and NART; the data were analysed using SPSS.
RESULTS The women originated from across the social spectrum and disruption of early family life was common. Fifty per cent had a 'severe mental illness' and most were not receiving drug treatment. High levels of active psychotic symptoms were present. Women with psychosis had suffered a greater intellectual decline from their premorbid levels of functioning than those without psychosis.
CONCLUSIONS The study affirmed findings of earlier studies employing case-studies methodology. Women with high levels of psychiatric morbidity and social dysfunction were being managed by care workers in a way that may promote stability rather than a drift into street-life.