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Open Access Study protocol

A strengths based method for homeless youth: Effectiveness and fidelity of Houvast

Manon AM Krabbenborg, Sandra N Boersma and Judith RLM Wolf*

Author Affiliations

Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Department of Primary and Community Care, Netherlands Centre for Social Care Research, PO Box 9101, Nijmegen, 6500 HB, The Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:359  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-359

Published: 18 April 2013

Abstract

Background

While homelessness among youth is a serious problem, there is little information about evidence-based interventions for homeless youth. In cooperation with professionals and youths, Wolf (2012) developed Houvast (Dutch for ‘grip’): a strengths based method grounded in scientific and practice evidence. The main aim of Houvast is to improve the quality of life of homeless youths by focusing on their strengths, thus stimulating their capacity for autonomy and self-reliance.

Method/Design

The effectiveness and fidelity of Houvast will be tested in ten Dutch services for homeless youth which are randomly allocated to an intervention group (n = 5), or a control group which provides care as usual (n = 5). Measurements of both objective and subjective quality of life and secondary outcomes (mental and physical health, substance use, coping, resilience, psychological needs, care needs, working relationship with the professional and attainment of personal goals) will be conducted among homeless youths (n = 251). Youths in both groups will be interviewed by means of a structured interview at baseline, at time of ending care or after having received care for six months (T1) and at nine months after baseline (T2). Model fidelity will be tested around T1.

Discussion

This study is unique as it includes a large number of homeless youths who are followed for a period of nine months, and because it focuses on a strengths based approach. If the Houvast method proves to be effective in improving quality of life it will be the first evidence-based intervention for homeless youth.

Trail registration

Netherlands Trail Register (NTR):NTR3254

Keywords:
Homeless youth; Strengths based method; Quality of life; Mental health; Substance use; Fidelity; Quasi-experimental design