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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Predictors of self-esteem in adults who are homeless or unstably housed Maxey, Sean


The adverse conditions associated with living with no fixed address give rise to many physical and mental health issues. There is a rich history of research on homelessness that focuses on related health deficits. Emerging positive psychological literature has illuminated the importance of identifying the personal strengths and potentialities of individuals who are homeless. Self-esteem is a strength that has been extensively researched in positive psychology and has been characterized as a causal force underlying many of the psychological challenges facing people who are homeless. Indeed, self-esteem has been identified as a predictor or mediator/moderator in relationships with other psychological concepts critical to adults who are marginalized. That said, few studies have examined how subjective quality of life (QoL), depression, and health conditions act as predictors of self-esteem in populations that are homeless. Secondary data from the Quality of Life for Homeless and Hard-to-House Individuals (QoLHHI) study (N = 239) was analyzed using multiple regression in SPSS to determine if, and to what degree, subjective QoL, depression, and health conditions predict self-esteem in individuals who are homeless or unstably housed. Participants were recruited from shelters, single room occupancy (SRO) hotels, and other services in three Canadian cities – Vancouver, Calgary, and Ottawa. Findings reveal that the two psychological variables – subjective QoL and depression – were the only statistically significant predictors of self-esteem in the model, with Pratt’s index showing that depression was the most important variable. Possible implications for improving the lives of adults who are homeless, from a positive psychological perspective, may be helpful to a variety of professions, such as policy makers, researchers, and clinicians.

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