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In Journal of community psychology

Young adults experiencing homelessness (YAEH) are at elevated risk for violence victimization and perpetration. However, there are no evidence-based violence prevention interventions for homeless populations. This study is an evaluation of a novel mindfulness-based peer-leader intervention designed to reduce violence and improve mindfulness in YAEH. A social network of YAEH receiving services at a drop-in agency was recruited in Summer 2018 (n = 106) and peer-leaders identified at baseline (n = 12). Peer leaders were trained in mindfulness and yoga skills during a 1-day intensive workshop and seven 1-h weekly follow-up workshops and encouraged to share their knowledge with in-network peers. Postintervention data were collected 2 and 3 months after baseline. Two one-way repeated-measures analyses of variance (ANOVAs) tested differences in means for mindfulness and fighting. ANOVA models showed significant increases in group mean mindfulness F(2, 110) = 3.42, p < 0.05 and significant decreases in group mean violent behavior F(2, 112) = 5.23, p < 0.01 at the network level. Findings indicate a network-based, peer-leader model can be effective for influencing complex, socially conditioned attitudes and behaviors among YAEH. Additional advantages of the peer-leader model include relatively few direct-service person-hours required from providers and convenience to participants able practice skills in their relevant social contexts.

Barr Nicholas, Petering Robin, Onasch-Vera Laura, Thompson Nichole, Polsky Ryan


homelessness, mindfulness, social networks, violence