Intervention for homeless, substance abusing mothers: findings from a non-randomized pilot

Behav Med. 2012;38(2):36-48. doi: 10.1080/08964289.2012.657724.


Little empirically-based information is available regarding how best to intervene with substance-abusing homeless mothers. This study pilot-tested a comprehensive intervention with 15 homeless women and their 2- to 6-year-old children, recruited from a local family shelter. All participants were offered integrated intervention with three major components. The first component was housing which included 3 months of rental and utility assistance, and these services were not contingent upon women's abstinence from drugs or alcohol. The second and third components included 6 months of case management services and an evidence-based substance abuse treatment (Community Reinforcement Approach; CRA). Analysis revealed that women showed reductions in substance use (F(2,22) = 3.63; p < .05), homelessness (F(2,24) = 25.31; p < .001), and mental health problems (F(2,20) = 8.5; p < .01). Further, women reported reduced internalizing (F(2,22) = 4.08; p < .05) and externalizing problems (F(2,24) = 7.7; p = .01) among their children. The findings suggest that the intervention is a promising approach to meet the multiple needs of this vulnerable population. These positive outcomes support the need for future research to replicate the findings with a larger sample using a randomized design.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case Management
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome