Cover: Understanding Effects of the Group Process on Drinking Outcomes for Emerging Adults Experiencing Homelessness

Understanding Effects of the Group Process on Drinking Outcomes for Emerging Adults Experiencing Homelessness

Published in: Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research, Volume 48, Issue 3, pages 556-566 (March 2024). DOI: 10.1111/acer.15272

Posted on rand.org Mar 25, 2024

by Elizabeth J. D'Amico, Jon M. Houck, Eric R. Pedersen, David J. Klein, Anthony Rodriguez, Joan S. Tucker

Background

There is little research on group process for motivational interviewing-based group interventions with young people. We examine how change talk, group climate and cohesion, and facilitator empathy among emerging adults experiencing homelessness affect their drinking outcomes.

Methods

Data come from a clinical trial at three drop-in centers serving emerging adults experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County and focus on those who received the intervention (n=132). Participants completed baseline, 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-up surveys. They were predominantly male and non-white. Group sessions were digitally recorded and coded for percentage change talk (PCT), group climate and cohesion, and facilitator empathy.

Results

Because baseline alcohol use was significantly higher at site 1 than sites 2 and 3, we examined associations separately by site. At 6 months, higher PCT was associated with fewer drinks per drinking day for sites 2 and 3, whereas higher PCT was associated with more drinks per drinking day for site 1. There were no effects of PCT at 12 months. Higher group cohesion scores were associated with fewer drinking days at 6 months; higher facilitator empathy was associated with fewer maximum drinks in a day at both 6 and 12 months. Group climate was not associated with drinking outcomes.

Conclusions

These findings highlight the importance of measuring multiple factors in the group process to understand outcomes. What is "uttered" during group and what is observed provide different methods to evaluate the group process and allow us to better bridge the gap between research and practice.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.