De la Haye, K., Green, H. D., Kennedy, D. P., Zhou, A., Golinelli, D., Wenzel, S. L. and Tucker, J. S.

Search Terms: homeless youth, support systems, social contacts, social networks

Summary: Homeless youth lack the traditional support networks of their housed peers, which increases their risk for poor health outcomes. Using a multilevel dyadic analytic approach, this study identified characteristics of social contacts, relationships, and social networks associated with the provision of tangible and emotional support to homeless youth. Support providers were likely to be family members, sex partners or non-street based contacts.

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Alessandra Ram

Search terms: lgbt, lgbtq, gay, homeless youth, cellphone, technology

Summary: Christopher Wood was thrown out of his home because of his sexuality and credits his cellphone with saving his life. Now he hopes to expand his effort to provide homeless LGBTQ youth with cellphones across the country soon. The ultimate goal is to provide phones for more than 5,000 homeless LGBTQ teens in 200 cities and rural communities. Despite their vast overrepresentation in the national homeless population, no federal programs exist to meet the needs of homeless LGBTQ youth. Even though homeless LGBTQ youth only account for roughly four percent of the general population, 40 percent of youth experiencing homelessness self-identify as LGBTQ.

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Cell Phone Use among Homeless Youth: Potential for New Health Interventions and Research

E Rice , A Lee and S Taitt

Search Terms: homeless youth, cell phone usage, intervention, Los Angeles, social support

Summary: Cell phone use has become nearly ubiquitous among adolescents in the United States. Despite the potential for cell phones to facilitate intervention, research, and care for homeless youth, no data exists to date on cell phone use among this population. In 2009, a survey of cell phone use was conducted among a non-probability sample of 169 homeless youth in Los Angeles, CA. Cell phones present new opportunities for intervention research, connecting homeless youth to family and home-based peers who can be sources of social support in times of need. Moreover, cell phones provide researchers and providers with new avenues to maintain connections with these highly transient youth.

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Social Networking Technology, Social Network Composition, and Reductions in Substance Use Among Homeless Adolescents

Eric Rice, Norweenta G. Milburn and William Monro

Search Terms: homeless youth, alcoholism, drugs, cellphone, los angeles, prevention, technology

Summary: Peer-based prevention programs for homeless youth are complicated by the potential for reinforcing high-risk behaviors among participants. The goal of this study is to understand how homeless youth could be linked to positive peers in prevention programming by understanding where in social and physical space positive peers for homeless youth are located, how these ties are associated with substance use, and the role of social networking technologies (e.g., internet and cell phones) in this process. Personal social network data were collected from 136 homeless adolescents in Los Angeles, CA. For homeless youth, who are physically disconnected from positive peers, social networking technologies can be used to facilitate the sorts of positive social ties that effective peer-based prevention programs require.

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Characteristics of Natural Mentoring Relationships from the Perspectives of Homeless Youth

Michelle T. Dang, PhD, RN, APHN-BC, and Elizabeth Miller MD, PhD

Search terms: Homeless youth, natural mentor, social support

Summary: Homeless youth experience high risks for poor mental health outcomes. This is the first published qualitative study on natural mentoring relationships as reported by homeless youth. A key finding was the sense of loss expressed by participants regarding parental relationships and how their natural mentors served as surrogate parents.

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Josephine Ensign and Seth Ammerman

Search Terms: adolescent health, ethics, healthcare, homeless youth, research ethics, research incentives

Summary: This study aims to document researcher, healthcare provider and program administrators’ experiences with ethical issues of research with homeless youth in the USA and Canada. Findings were taken from a descriptive web-based survey conducted in 2005. An intriguing finding of the survey was that healthcare providers and/or program administrators were more likely to use vouchers/gift cards vs. money as research incentives, while researchers doing mental health and/or substance use research tended to use money as a research incentive.

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