A Computer-Assisted Motivational Social Network Intervention to Reduce Alcohol, Drug and HIV Risk Behaviors Among Housing First Residents

Published in: Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, v. 11, no. 4, 2016

Posted on RAND.org on March 29, 2016

by David P. Kennedy, Sarah B. Hunter, Karen Chan Osilla, Ervant J. Maksabedian Hernandez, Daniela Golinelli, Joan S. Tucker

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Research Question

  1. Can an intervention that incorporates motivational interviewing and social network visualizations help Housing First residents reduce substance use and HIV-risk behavior?

BACKGROUND: Individuals transitioning from homelessness to housing face challenges to reducing alcohol, drug and HIV risk behaviors. To aid in this transition, this study developed and will test a computer-assisted intervention that delivers personalized social network feedback by an intervention facilitator trained in motivational interviewing (MI). The intervention goal is to enhance motivation to reduce high risk alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and reduce HIV risk behaviors. METHODS/DESIGN: In this Stage 1b pilot trial, 60 individuals that are transitioning from homelessness to housing will be randomly assigned to the intervention or control condition. The intervention condition consists of four biweekly social network sessions conducted using MI. AOD use and HIV risk behaviors will be monitored prior to and immediately following the intervention and compared to control participants' behaviors to explore whether the intervention was associated with any systematic changes in AOD use or HIV risk behaviors. DISCUSSION: Social network health interventions are an innovative approach for reducing future AOD use and HIV risk problems, but little is known about their feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy. The current study develops and pilot-tests a computer-assisted intervention that incorporates social network visualizations and MI techniques to reduce high risk AOD use and HIV behaviors among the formerly homeless.

Key Findings

  • Combining social network visualization with motivational interviewing is an innovative approach that would allow individuals to target changes to their own personal networks.
  • Using technology to present the social network visualization would provide consistency in the intervention delivery while allowing for personalized content.
  • Results of this pilot test will provide evidence to inform the development of a larger clinical trial for Housing First residents and may inform social network intervention development with other populations.

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