Housing First and Substance Abuse

Topics: Research, Scientific method, Mental illness Pages: 8 (2966 words) Published: April 8, 2013

Research Article Analysis

The research article I chose to analyze, Housing First Services for People who Are Homeless with Co-Occurring Serious Mental Illness and Substance Abuse, studied the outcomes of alcohol and substance abuse as well as participation in substance abuse and mental health treatment between people in housing first programs and treatment first programs in New York City. The two research questions asked were, “Are there group differences in alcohol and drug use at 48 months?” and “Are there group differences in participation in substance abuse and mental health treatment at 48 months?” (Padgett, Gulcur, & Tsemberis, 2006, p. 76). The purpose of this study was to find out if this four year study was comparable to the New York Housing Society’s research done in 1996, which studied housing stability among housing first versus treatment first participants over the course of two years. This evaluative research concluded that sobriety-contingent housing did not lead to more stable housing, nor did it show any statistically significant difference between the two groups on drug or alcohol use, as such; there was little difference in the outcomes based on the previous study of 2 year duration versus the current research of 4 year duration. The authors did not make the research question’s importance very clear. I had to read over the article several times to determine that the research questions were trying to find out whether housing stability among treatment first or housing first participants changed over a longer period of time. Having understood what the research question was really asking, I believe it is very important in the social work field. By asking questions like this, we enter the process of reversing the continuum of operations regarding housing for those struggling with drug addiction, and challenge notions of what is best for people who are seemingly unable to take care of themselves. The research questions in this article are also important for policy makers, as it indicates that the housing first approach is a long-term alternative for those with nowhere else to turn, and that individuals with severe mental illness and substance use problems do not need to undergo mandatory treatment to be able to live independently in the community. The authors of this research article were interested in the longevity of and the success rate of the housing first approach. In order to do so, they did a literature review that explained the success of the 24 month long New York Housing Society’s (NYHS) research on housing first vs. treatment first programs for the homeless of New York City in 1996. The authors of the article identified that the New York Housing Society’s previous research was the “only randomized experiment design” (Padgett et al., 2006, p. 75) to compare the effectiveness of the two housing alternatives. The prior literature review of the NYHS research is vital, as the entire research for this particular article is comparative to the previous study. I would like to have seen more research previously done so that the authors had more to compare their study to, but I trust that they only wanted to compare their study to others with a more sound and valid research design. From other scholarly articles I have browsed through in regards to research in housing first vs. treatment first programs, most had small sample sizes, or questionable ways of attaining representative samples. I trust that the literature review the authors gave was the most dependable and up to date they had access to at the time. The authors did not state that they used one theoretical framework to guide their research, but it closely resembles aspects of systems theory. By having the control and experimental groups experience different systems; or conditions of their housing, the researchers were able to examine those systems of available resources in the subject’s life...
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