Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase
Tracking Homeless Youth Longitudinally: The Role of Technology
Monday, November 17, 2014
Because homeless youth are often transient and lack stable contact information, longitudinal research with this group is challenging, and researchers’ abilities to draw causal conclusions regarding factors that predict youth outcomes are subsequently limited. While technology may improve study retention, further research is needed to identify the best methods for maintaining longitudinal contact with homeless youth. The current study investigated the utility of various technological approaches. Research questions addressed, among homeless youth: 1) which contact methods are associated with successful longitudinal data collection, 2) how many contact attempts are necessary, and 3) what youth characteristics are associated with study retention? As part of a clinical trial for homeless youth, data were collected from youth ages 18-21 (N=98) accessing services in a homeless youth shelter. Participants were given active cell phones (pre-paid for 3 months), and participants’ e-mail and Facebook information were collected. Youth were contacted via phone, text, e-mail, or Facebook at four time points: pretest, and at 1-week, 6-week, and 3-month follow-up. The study combined quantitative tracking of youths’ response patterns, and analysis of youths’ answers to open-ended interviews regarding their preferred methods of communication. Results demonstrate that maintaining communication with homeless youth requires persistence, frequent contact attempts over several days, and using technology methods specific to youths’ preferences. Although a combination of contact methods was useful, cell phone contacts (calls or texts) were most successful, with e-mail and Facebook messaging useful when phones were lost or stolen. This presentation will discuss implications for research and service.
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences
Identify which technological approaches are most successful in maintaining contact with homeless youth in longitudinal research studies.
Assess how many contact attempts are necessary, on average, in order to maintain longitudinal contact with homeless youth.
Differentiate youth characteristics associated with study retention.
Keyword(s): Homelessness, Technology
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral student at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work, where my research interests include interventions with homeless youth. I served as the supervising Graduate Research Assistant on a randomized trial assessing and aiming to improve risk detection among homeless youth. This presentation would include some of the results of our longitudinal study.
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.