Enhancing Risk Detection among Homeless Youth: A Randomized Clinical Trial of a Promising Pilot Intervention.

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Graduate School of Social Work


Homeless youth, Risk detection, Intervention


Homeless youth frequently experience victimization, and youth with histories of trauma often fail to detect danger risks, making them vulnerable to subsequent victimization. The current study describes a pilot test of a skills-based intervention designed to improve risk detection among homeless youth through focusing attention to internal, interpersonal, and environmental cues. Youth aged 18 to 21 years (N = 74) were recruited from a shelter and randomly assigned to receive usual case management services or usual services plus a 3-day manualized risk detection intervention. Pretest and posttest interviews assessed youths’ risk detection abilities through vignettes describing risky situations and asking youth to identify risk cues present. Separate 2 (intervention vs. control) × 2 (pretest vs. posttest) mixed ANOVAs found significant interaction effects, as intervention youth significantly improved in overall risk detection compared with control youth. Post hoc subgroup analyses found the intervention had a greater effect for youth without previous experiences of indirect victimization than those with previous indirect victimization experiences.

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