Research You Can Use

ACRC’s research committee has selected research articles with strong relevancy to today’s work and has provided a professional review for each one. Please log into the member’s section of the website for access to these reviews.

Examination of Negative Peer Contagion in a Residential Care Setting

Abstract: There has been ongoing concern about the negative impact of residential treatment on youth in care. Research examining the impact of negative peer influence in juvenile justice, education, and residential care settings is reviewed. A study was conducted to examine the impact of negative peer contagion on the level of problem behavior in a residential care program, and the extent to which caregiver experience and youth time-in-program mediated that relationship. The study used archival data for 1,438 first-time admissions to a large Midwestern out-of- home residential program for youth with emotional and behavioral problems. Hierarchical Linear Modeling was used to examine the relationship between daily reports of conduct and oppositional defiant disorder (CD/ODD) behaviors and the percentage of conduct disorder youth living in a home. Greater exposure to conduct disordered peers was not related to increased rates of CD/ODD behavior. CD/ODD behavior was directly related to direct care staff level of experience and youth time in program. Implications for residential care are discussed.

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The Impact of Psychiatric Practice

There is growing concern about the high rates of psychotropic medication prescriptions for youth in the juvenile justice system. There is no indication about what the rates “should” be for these youth. A counter argument to reducing prescriptions is that it will result in increased aggression. This study looked at the impact of psychiatric practice guidelines on medication expenditures and behavior within state run juvenile justice facilities. This study shows that reducing expenditures did not result in an increase of aggression.

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Parental Involvement in Residential Care

Residential treatment (RT) programs have long embraced family involvement for youth in residential care, in many cases viewing the physical separation of youth and family as inherently problematic. Family contact is viewed as an important treatment component, a view supported by research. This study examines a chief factor that impacts family contact, the distance of family from the residential facility, and its relationship to the frequency and type of contact (youth “home visits”, phone contact and family visits to the facility), and how these factors interact to affect youth outcomes. The authors predicted that 1) the farther the distance from the RT facility, that fewer contacts that would occur; and 2) that greater contact would be associated with better outcomes. In addition, the authors anticipated that over-night home visits by youth would be associated with more positive outcomes than family visits to the facility, and that weekday phone calls would have a more positive impact than weekend calls.

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Traumatized Youth in Residential Treatment Settings

This article reviews the current understanding of the impact of trauma, treatment needs, and response to treatment for youth in residential settings by summarizing previously published studies on youth in residential care. This is important because youth in residential settings often have significant trauma histories which may affect their success in treatment.

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