Health Services Research & Development

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Gabrielian S, Hamilton AB, Gelberg L, Koosis ER, Johnson A, Young AS. Identifying Social Skills That Support Housing Attainment and Retention Among Homeless Persons With Serious Mental Illness. Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.). 2019 May 1; 70(5):374-380.
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Abstract: OBJECTIVE: By combining supportive services with independent housing, permanent supportive housing (PSH) programs effectively address homelessness. Yet, many persons with serious mental illness struggle to attain and retain housing in these programs. Social skills-which facilitate social interactions and instrumental tasks-predict premature exit from PSH. This project aimed to build consensus on a set of social skills that supports independent housing attainment and retention among homeless persons with serious mental illness, with a clinical focus on PSH programs. METHODS: Guided by the RAND/University of California, Los Angeles, appropriateness method, the set of social skills was developed by using literature review; key informant interviews (N=12), a national consensus panel of experts in psychosocial rehabilitation and homelessness (N=11), and two focus groups with homeless persons with serious mental illness (N=17). RESULTS: These methods identified 24 social skills in seven domains: finding and renting an apartment, using one's time well, getting closer to people, managing finances, avoiding problems with drugs and alcohol, solving interpersonal problems, and managing one's health. Expert panelists and focus group participants agreed that these social skills were feasible for inclusion in social skills training and could strongly affect housing outcomes in PSH settings. CONCLUSIONS: Consensus was reached about a set of social skills relevant to housing attainment and retention for persons with serious mental illness engaged in PSH. Next steps include modifying social skills training interventions to this skill set, making contextual modifications relevant to the setting and context of PSH, and studying the effectiveness and implementation of the adapted intervention in PSH.