239358 Understanding technology use in young adult homeless

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

David Pollio, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Jeremiah Jaggers, MSW , School of Social Work, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Ashley Hudson, MSW , School of Social Work, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Background: Young adult homeless have been considered among the most difficult groups to engage in services and treatment. Recent research documenting high levels of communication technology use by this group has suggested its promise for engagement and intervention. Understanding how communication technology is used may aid in the development of effective technology-based interventions, the purpose of this presentation. Methods: Eight focus groups (n=81) were conducted at two multiservice agencies on each coast, each providing similar services for young adult homeless (18-24). Four paired groups were recruited; from drop-in, short-term shelter and long-term housing programs; and among agency staff. Open-ended questions on technology use and agency needs were audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed for themes. Themes were identified, independently coded, differences reconciled through a consensus procedure, and interpreted. Results: Six themes were identified; use of technology to meet needs, use of technology to connect people, relative importance of technology, technologies listed, technological sophistication, and agency use of technology. Each theme appeared consistently across all groups, with multiple individuals in each group contributing. Individuals reported consistent use of multiple technologies (social networks, texting, instant messaging, web resources), considerable sophistication, and strongly endorsed the importance of technology in social relationships and meeting daily and longer-term needs. Discussion: Evidence affirms the overall importance of technology use in this population, and further documents the potential for use in service delivery. Findings further suggest the possibility for using communication technology to access social networks of young adult homeless, and that technologies may have different utility for intervention.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss different purposes for which young adult homeless use communication technologies. 2. Describe the level of sophistication and means of access of technology by young adult homeles. 3. Name five different social network or other on-line resources commonly accessed by young adult homeless.

Keywords: Technology, Homelessness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed the research activities, led data analysis, first author onr esulting manuscripts.
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.