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June 15, 2022

Assessing the effectiveness and implementation of psychosocial interventions

We are proud to announce that we are collaborating with Manchester Metropolitan University to undertake two systematic reviews into psychosocial interventions in homelessness which will help homelessness services offer more effective interventions based on what works.

Carrying out these reviews on all psychosocial interventions as a whole can be incredibly insightful and helpful. The reviews will take all the available evidence and translate it into easily accessible and usable evidence which can help policy-makers, commissioners and providers make better and more effective decisions based on what works.

The first review will examine the effectiveness of different types of interventions, while the second will analyse the barriers and facilitators to successful implementation. We are working with people with lived experiences of homelessness, policymakers and practitioners to ensure our research reflects the reality of providing services and that findings will be translatable into recommendations for policy and practice.

Watch the recording of our online discussion with Dr Chris O’Leary of Manchester Metropolitan University, who is leading the research, below.

Adults experiencing more extreme and visible forms of homelessness often face severe and multiple disadvantages. One group of interventions for which there is growing evidence of effectiveness is psychosocial interventions. Psychosocial interventions are non-pharmacological and aim to inform, educate and increase coping capacity. They include interventions such as behavioural therapies, motivational interviewing and contingency management. While there is an evidence base around the use of these types of interventions in substance use treatment and mental health services, the unique, and uniquely challenging, experiences of this population are not adequately addressed in the literature. 

The first review will use meta-analysis to examine the effectiveness of different psychosocial interventions in reducing problematic substance use, improving mental health and  improving housing stability for adults experiencing homelessness. Housing is recognised as a significant social determinant of health, but is not addressed as such in the wider literature. This review hopes to find the differences in effectiveness of varying interventions across different outcomes, which services work well for which groups and what theories of change underlie interventions

The second review will use thematic synthesis to examine the barriers and facilitators faced by adults experiencing homelessness accessing psychosocial interventions. There is a significant gap in the current evidence base in terms of the voice of people with lived experience of homelessness, as it largely treats people with lived experience as passive research participants. This review focuses specifically on the barriers and facilitators to engagement with services and thus aims to directly hear the voice of homeless people as collected in the included studies.

For both reviews, we aim to involve people with lived experiences of homelessness in the research process. This has been done by bringing together a panel of people with lived experiences of homelessness to validate the scope and focus of the review, helping ensure relevance and appropriateness of its outcomes for service users. This expert panel will also be brought in later in the process to co-produce the discussion, recommendations and conclusions of the published review.

Find out more about the other projects we are working on or view our latest published findings.

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