Engagement intervention versus treatment as usual for young adults with serious mental illness: a randomized pilot trial

Munson, Michelle R.; Jaccard, James J.; Scott, Lionel D.; Narendorf, Sarah C.; Moore, Kiara L.; Jenefsky, Nadia; Cole, Andrea; Davis, Maryann; Gilmer, Todd; Shimizu, Rei; Pleines, Kristin; Cooper, Kamilyah; Rodwin, Aaron H.; Hylek, Lindsay; Amaro, Angel

Young adults have elevated rates of mental health disorders, yet they often do not receive consistent care. The challenge of continuing to engage young adults has been pervasive worldwide. Few engagement interventions have been designed for young adults with serious mental illness. Just Do You is a theoretically guided engagement intervention. It uses innovative modalities (i.e., technology, expressive arts activities, narrative expression, mentoring) to engage participants in conversations about services and how they work, while simultaneously orienting them to treatment.

This pilot and feasibility study utilizes a hybrid research design, examining feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary impact, alongside implementation. The study combines qualitative methods, a small pilot randomized trial, and a small cost-benefit analysis. Respondents are clinic staff and young adults who have made initial contact with the Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) program. Quantitative survey data are collected at baseline, 2 weeks (post-intervention), 1 month, and 3 months. The assessments focus on measuring feasibility, acceptability, engagement, and mental health outcomes. Medical record extraction will be used to triangulate self-report data. We will conduct single degree of freedom contrasts to examine whether Just Do You leads to improved outcomes relative to Treatment-As-Usual using robust regression for each outcome measure. We will examine whether changes in the proposed mediating variables occur across groups using a similar contrast strategy. In addition, we will use structural equation modeling to examine the contribution of mediators to ultimate outcomes. Finally, we will use constant comparison coding techniques for qualitative analyses.

The aim of this study is to examine the feasibility of a young adult engagement meta-intervention through an intensive preliminary pilot trial, learning through collaboration with stakeholders. Just Do You has the potential to fill a gap in the service system for young adults with serious mental illnesses, improving the seemingly intractable problem of disengagement. The program uses culturally responsive strategies, is recovery-oriented, and builds upon the best evidence to date. Our efforts align with local and national health care reform efforts embedding people with lived experience.

Trial registration
This trial was registered with (Identifier:

) on April 18, 2018, as Protocol Record R34 MH111861-01, New York University, as the Just Do You Program for Young Adults with Serious Mental Illness


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Pilot and Feasibility Studies

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Published Here
September 22, 2023


Young adults, Experimental therapeutics, Serious mental illness, Engagement, Hybrid I Trial