Predictors of Retention in an Alcohol and Risky Sex Prevention Program for Homeless Young Adults
Homeless young adults are at risk for alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and risky sexual behavior. Interventions are needed to help these young people reduce their risky behavior, but this population is often difficult to engage and retain in services. We offered a four-session AOD and risky sex reduction program to 100 participants and examined if retention in the program was predicted by a number of factors: demographics, homelessness severity, other service use, AOD behaviors, mental health symptoms, sexual risk behaviors, and readiness to change AOD and condom use. Nearly half (48%) of participants completed all sessions. In bivariate analyses, participants were significantly less likely to be retained in the program if they had slept outdoors in the past month, engaged in more alcohol and marijuana use, experienced more alcohol-related consequences, and received the program in an urban drop-in center (as opposed to a drop-in center near the beach). When controlling for all significant bivariate relationships, only sleeping outdoors and receipt of the program in the urban setting predicted fewer sessions completed. The most endorsed reasons for program non-completion were being too busy to attend and inconvenient day/time of the program. Findings can help outreach staff and researchers better prepare methods to engage higher risk homeless youth and retain them in services. Finding unique ways to help youth overcome barriers related to location of services appears especially necessary, perhaps by bringing services to youth where they temporarily reside or offering meaningful incentives for program attendance.
KeywordsAlcohol and drug use Homeless youth Retention Drop out Risky sex
The authors want to thank Ruthie Brownfield, Ali Johnson, and Fred Mills of the RAND Survey Research Group for their assistance with data collection and intervention delivery, the two drop-in centers for their support of this research, and the youth who participated in the study.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.
Ethical Approval Statement
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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