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Open Access A Support Intervention to Promote Health and Coping Among Homeless Youths Une intervention destinée à améliorer la santé et la capacité d'adaptation des jeunes sans-abri

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Abstract:

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.

French
La vulnérabilité des jeunes sans-abri est souvent grande, en raison de la solitude et des ressources limitées à leur disposition. La présence des pairs peut s'avérer un soutien social précieux. Une intervention pilote destinée à cette population, conçue dans le but d'optimiser l'influence des pairs, a été mise à l'essai. On a d'abord procédé à une évaluation des besoins et des préférences après avoir consulté 36 jeunes sans-abri et 27 fournisseurs de services. Sur cette base, on a conçu un projet pilote de 20 semaines, qui comprenait quatre groupes d'entraide, soutien individuel facultatif, activités de loisir en groupe et repas. Ces activités étaient encadrées par des professionnels et des pairs mentors, dont d'anciens sansabri. En tout, 56 jeunes sans-abri âgés de 16 à 24 ans ont pris part au projet; des mesures quantitatives et des entrevues qualitatives ont eu lieu avant, pendant et après. Malgré certains défis dus pour une large part à l'attrition, les jeunes ont rapporté avoir constaté des améliorations sur plusieurs plans : comportements liés à la santé, bien-être mental, solitude, réseau social, habiletés d'adaptation, consommation de drogues et d'alcool. Ce modèle pourrait être reproduit sur d'autres sites et avec un échantillon plus vaste dans le cadre de recherches ultérieures.

Keywords: COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT; HOMELESS YOUTHS; PEER MENTORS; PILOT INTERVENTION; SOCIAL SUPPORT

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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  • CJNR is a peer-reviewed, quarterly journal published by the McGill University School of Nursing since 1969. With world-wide circulation, CJNR's primary mandate is to publish original nursing research that develops basic knowledge for the discipline and examines the application of the knowledge in practice. Research related to education and history is also welcomed, as are methodological, theoretical, and review papers that advance nursing science. Letters or commentaries about published articles are encouraged. Learn more.
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