JOURNAL ARTICLE

A support intervention to promote health and coping among homeless youths

Miriam Stewart, Linda Reutter, Nicole Letourneau, Edward Makwarimba
Canadian Journal of Nursing Research 2009, 41 (2): 55-77
19650513
Homeless youths are often vulnerable to limited support resources and loneliness. Peers are a potent source of social support. A support intervention for homeless youths was designed to optimize peer influence and was pilot tested. The intervention was based on an initial assessment of support needs and intervention preferences from the perspective of 36 homeless youths and 27 service providers. Based on the results, a 20-week pilot intervention program was designed, consisting of 4 support groups, optional one-on-one support, group recreational activities, and meals. Support was provided by professional and peer mentors, including formerly homeless youths. A total of 56 homeless youths aged 16 to 24 took part. Participants completed pre-, mid-, and post-test quantitative measures and qualitative interviews. In spite of challenges due primarily to attrition, the youths reported enhanced health behaviours, improved mental well-being, decreased loneliness, expanded social network, increased coping skills, enhanced self-efficacy, and diminished use of drugs and alcohol. Further research could focus on replication at other sites with a larger sample.

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