The “Staying in Touch and Engaged Project” (STEP) aimed to support Housing First residents in staying in touch with researchers and in engaging in meaningful activities during the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing directives. A 16-week, two-group randomized controlled pilot trial compared remote assessment of substance-use and health-related quality of life assessment paired with immediate versus delayed provision of remotely delivered meaningful activities. The aim of this project was to test whether the meaningful activities package (MAP) engages residents and improves their mood, substance-use outcomes, and physical and mental health-related quality of life.
The project team mailed study invitations to residents in five housing programs (estimated mailed N=538). To date, 32 Housing First residents reached out to consent to participate, responding via mailed consent forms, phone, video conferencing or online survey completion. Of those who consented, 26 have completed baseline assessments, and 11 have completed one-month follow-ups. The study highlighted the difficulties in reaching residents, partly due to the lack of communication technologies.
The team found that the technological divide has grown deeper and more consequential during the pandemic and must be bridged to facilitate social connection, physical and mental health, and basic communication for people marginalized by the lived experience of homelessness and psychiatric, medical and substance use disorder. The team is working to locate additional funds through the UW and WSU to continue participant recruitment and evaluation efforts, achieve the originally proposed sample size and further improve follow-up rates.
April 1, 2020 — March 31, 2021
University of Washington Population Health Initiative
Alcohol use, Homelessness, Substance Use Disorders