A Family Intervention to Reduce Sexual Risk Behavior, Substance Use, and Delinquency Among Newly Homeless Youth

Norweeta G. Milburn, Ph.D., et al.

April 2012

We evaluate the efficacy of a short family intervention in reducing sexual risk behavior, drug use, and delinquent behaviors among homeless youth using a randomized controlled trial of 151 families with a homeless adolescent aged 12 to 17 years. Between March 2006 and June 2009, adolescents were recruited from diverse sites in Southern California and were assessed at recruitment (baseline), and at 3, 6, and 12 months later. Families were randomly assigned to an intervention condition with five weekly home-based intervention sessions or a control condition (standard care). Main outcome measures reflect self-reported sexual risk behavior, substance use, and delinquent behaviors over the past 90 days. Results indicate that sexual risk behavior (e.g., mean number of partners; p < .001), alcohol use (p = .003), hard drug use (p < .001), and delinquent behaviors (p = .001) decreased significantly more during 12 months in the intervention condition compared with the control condition. Marijuana use, however, significantly increased in the intervention condition compared with the control condition (p < .001). Researchers conclude that an intervention to reengage families of homeless youth has significant benefits in reducing risk over 12 months.

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