Online Program

Development of a social network website to prevent HIV in a young adult homeless population

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 10:30 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.

David Pollio, PhD, School of Social Work, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Jennifer McClendon, MSW, PhD, School of Social Work, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY
Eric Rice, PhD, School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Andrea Stella, The Space at Tompkins, New York, NY
James Thacher, The Space at Tompkins, New York, NY
David Rosenthal, PhD, Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center, New York, NY
Introduction: With high rates of risk behaviors, but relatively low rates of HIV, young adult homeless represent an ideal population for prevention efforts. A primary challenge to preventing HIV is the well-documented difficulty in accessing this population. Recent research highlights the potential for on-line interventions to access social networks and deliver HIV prevention. This presentation documents the next step in this process, development of a social network website.

Methods: Using a grounded theory approach, three focus groups (n=15) were conducted within a single geographic location. Groups were co-facilitated by a qualitative researcher and a web-site engineer, and held sequentially, each group expanding on findings from the previous group(s). Members specified features and content to make a website attractive and useful. Using material developed by the engineer, the second and third groups also included website development.

Results: Findings affirmed the acceptability of a social network website. Consistently, participants described an approach tailored to the local geographic social network. Features included informal advice on access to local services, and facilitating social connections for population members. An initial web structure refined across groups demonstrated the unique needs of the young adult homeless populations.

Discussion: The development process demonstrated the ability to develop social network websites for this difficult-to-reach population. However, they also suggest the importance of tailoring websites to specific locations and social networks. While this is an important step in improving access to prevention efforts, next steps require implementation and demonstration of the effectiveness of this approach.

Learning Areas:

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

Learning Objectives:
Describe challenges to providing services to young adult homeless. Describe features identified by young adult homeless associated with increased use of a social network website.

Keyword(s): HIV Risk Behavior, Homelessness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed the research and data collection methods and led the analysis and write up.
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.