219129 Potential for technology in intervention with difficult-to-reach teen and young adult populations

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 9:15 AM - 9:30 AM

Eric Rice, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
David Pollio, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Kimberly Bender, PhD , Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Kristin Ferguson, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Sanna Thompson, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Texas, Austin, TX
Background: Marginalized youth and young adults have been considered to be among the most difficult to engage in prevention and treatment. Issues such as lack of trust of adults, involvement with deviant peer groups, and transience have been identified as important barriers. The use of information communication technology by these youth may provide new means for engagement and intervention. Methods/Results: Data from three studies of marginalized, homeless and street involved adolescents and young adults will be discussed, including: a survey of 201 street-involved adolescents in Los Angeles; a survey of 100 young, street involved adults in Denver and Los Angeles; and 8 focus groups in New York City and Los Angeles. All data show high levels of technology use (over 90% using, with between 24-46% using daily). Youth document a variety of uses: social networking, e-mail, texting, instant messaging, and resource-seeking internet use. Results showed that youth practicing survival/exchange sex were more likely to search for sex partners online, while youth using communications technology to connect to family were less likely to practice survival/exchange sex and were more likely to report a recent HIV test. Discussion: Despite marginalization and deprivation of key resources, evidence suggests that internet use is ubiquitous among these populations, and that using technology as a means of outreach is a potentially powerful service strategy. However, the differences among the use patterns and meaning of differing types of technology argue for further conceptualizing of the potential and pitfalls for interventions using specific types of on-line applications.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education

Learning Objectives:
Describe the extent to which homeless youth are using information technology and how they are leveraging this technology toward risk and resilient health behaviors.

Keywords: Adolescents, Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a professor in a school of social work and conduct research on disease prevention among high risk populations living in poverty.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.