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Testing an implementation package in a housing skills training pilot for homeless-experienced persons with serious mental illness.

Gabrielian S, Hamilton AB, Gelberg L, Koosis ER, Hoffmann L, Carlson DM, Young AS. Testing an implementation package in a housing skills training pilot for homeless-experienced persons with serious mental illness. Implementation research and practice. 2024 Mar 6; 5:DOI: 10.1177/26334895241236679.

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BACKGROUND: Evidence-based practices (EBPs) improve housing and health for persons who have experienced homelessness with serious mental illness (PEH-SMI) but are challenging to implement. We tested a strategy to support pilot implementation of a 12-session housing skills training intervention for PEH-SMI, tailored from effective social skills training interventions. We aimed to optimize the implementation strategy and intervention prior to an implementation trial. METHOD: We provided training and technical assistance to nine providers to support pilot implementation of this intervention to six groups of PEH-SMI ( = 35) engaged in VA Greater Los Angeles' homeless services. We used scales and semi-structured interviews with 14 PEH-SMI and all interventionists to inform implementation strategy adaptations, identify factors that impacted implementation, and assess perceptions of the intervention. Attendance was tracked and we observed a random sample of each interventionist's groups to assess treatment fidelity. RESULTS: Interventionists perceived the implementation strategy and the intervention favorably. However, interventionists often lacked physical space, staff, and resources (e.g., computers) to conduct the intervention. Interventionists found the content valuable for participants and a few suggested that group engagement should be a prerequisite for obtaining housing services. PEH-SMI were interested in the intervention's content and receptive to the group-based format. Participants attended a mean of 4 ± 3/12 groups; all groups observed had acceptable fidelity. Problems with intervention retention were described, suggesting challenges maintaining group participation when participants transitioned between VA homeless services. CONCLUSIONS: To support the implementation of an EBP for PEH-SMI in homeless programs, these data suggest the value of training/technical assistance and strategies that enhance program-level buy-in to address resource concerns. Intervention adaptations, e.g., using a drop-in, open group format, in community-based settings that are easily accessible to PEH-SMI, may also increase adoption. This project was registered as "Improving Housing Outcomes for Homeless Veterans" Trial registration NCT03646149, registered 8/24/2018.

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