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Reducing Recidivism and Symptoms in Emerging Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions and Justice System Involvement

An Erratum to this article was published on 08 October 2014


The peak years of offending in the general population and among those with serious mental health conditions (SMHC) are during emerging adulthood. There currently are no evidence-based interventions for reducing offending behavior among 18–21 year olds, with or without SMHC. This open trial examined outcomes from an adaptation of Multisystemic Therapy (MST), an effective juvenile recidivism reduction intervention, modified for use with emerging adults with SMHC and recent justice system involvement. MST for emerging adults (MST-EA) targets MH symptoms, recidivism, problem substance use, and young adult functional capacities. All study participants (n = 41) were aged 17–20 and had a MH diagnosis and recent arrest or incarceration. Implementation outcomes indicated that MST-EA was delivered with strong fidelity, client satisfaction was high, and the majority of participants successfully completed the intervention. Research retention rates also were high. Pre–post-analyses revealed significant reductions in participants’ MH symptoms, justice system involvement, and associations with antisocial peers.

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This work was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (R34MH081374) and the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (H133B090018) to Dr. Davis. Content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of these agencies. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families and North American Family Institute, as well as advice from Drs. Mary Evans, Scott Henggeler, Charles Lidz, and Edward Mulvey. We also thank the young adults and their social network members who made this research possible.

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Correspondence to Maryann Davis PhD.

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Davis, M., Sheidow, A.J. & McCart, M.R. Reducing Recidivism and Symptoms in Emerging Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions and Justice System Involvement. J Behav Health Serv Res 42, 172–190 (2015).

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  • Mental Health Condition
  • Clinical Supervisor
  • Social Network Member
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Service
  • Rehabilitation Agency