A Pilot of a Tripartite Prevention Program for Homeless Young Women in the Transition to Adulthood

Published In: Women's Health Issues, v. 19, no. 3, May/June 2009, p. 193-201

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2009

by Suzanne L. Wenzel, Elizabeth J. D'Amico, Dionne Barnes-Proby, Marylou Gilbert

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BACKGROUND: Among young women who are impoverished and homeless, the transition to adulthood (ages 18-25) is associated with alcohol and drug use, risky sexual activity, and increased risk of being victimized by intimate partner violence. METHODS: The Power of YOU, a program using motivational interviewing (MI), was designed to address these problems. The authors tested the Power of YOU with 31 homeless women (ages 18-25) in 7 focus groups. Women completed questionnaires assessing background characteristics and satisfaction at the end of each group. Each group was followed by a feedback session that was audiorecorded and transcribed. Key themes were identified. RESULTS: During a past 6-month period, 38.7% of women reported alcohol intoxication, 19.3% reported 2-3 male sex partners, and 22.2% reported major physical violence from a partner. Women expressed satisfaction and provided consistently positive feedback on the intervention, reporting, for example, that it was helpful to know how to put a condom on and that they appreciated the attention paid to safety planning. CONCLUSIONS: Results from this pilot suggest that The Power of YOU may hold promise in helping homeless young women in the transition to adulthood make healthier choices and plan for high-risk situations, and that the nonconfrontational, nonjudgmental approach of MI appeared appropriate for this population.

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