Given high rates of co-occurring mental and substance use disorders among homeless youths and poorly understood facilitators of and barriers to service use, this study explored factors influencing service use among homeless youths with co-occurring disorders.
Focus groups were conducted with 23 youths age 18 to 26 with co-occurring disorders. Group discussion was audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim, and transcripts were examined with thematic content analysis.
The factors identified as influencing service use were grouped into three broad categories: individual (motivation, support, and therapeutic relationship), program (flexibility and comprehensiveness of services and availability of harm reduction services), and systemic (stigma and accessibility).
Multilevel factors appear to influence service use among homeless youths with co-occurring disorders. Given the lack of evidence to support specific treatments in this population, these findings may be used to guide the development of thoughtfully designed interventions to engage homeless youths with co-occurring disorders.