Geoffrey Nelson

Geoffrey Nelson
Wilfrid Laurier University | WLU · Department of Psychology

Ph.D.

About

166
Publications
48,297
Reads
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6,656
Citations
Introduction
Geoffrey Nelson is Professor of Psychology and a faculty member in the graduate program in Community Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University. He has served as Senior Editor of the Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health. His research and practice has focused on housing, self-help, and community mental health programs for people with serious mental illness and community-based prevention programs for children and families.
Additional affiliations
July 1979 - present
Wilfrid Laurier University
Position
  • Professor

Publications

Publications (166)
Article
Full-text available
The paper compares the results from the large multi-site trials that examined the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of Pathways Housing First (HF) in Canada and France. Findings from the two trials on programme fidelity, housing, service utilisation, and other outcomes, and of cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analyses are presented. Both tria...
Chapter
Almost 30 years ago, Beth Shinn argued that individual-level analyses and person-centered approaches favored by psychology are limited in understanding the causes and solutions to homelessness. At the same time, community psychology has contributed significantly to the research base and the development of interventions and policy on homelessness ov...
Article
The purpose of this study is to examine the parent-child experiences of Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers and fathers experiencing homelessness, mental illness, and separation from their children. A qualitative thematic analysis of baseline and 18-month follow-up narrative interviews was used to compare 12 mothers (n = 8 Indigenous and n = 4 no...
Article
Full-text available
Better Beginnings Waterloo (BBW) is an ecological, community-driven, prevention program for children aged 4–8 and their families. BBW was implemented in two low-income communities with high percentages of visible minorities. Data on Grade 1–2 children and their parents (the baseline comparison group) were gathered through parent interviews (n = 34)...
Book
This textbook is the third edition of a trusted introduction to community psychology. The editors have focused on three contemporary social issues in order to illustrate key concepts throughout the book: climate change, affordable housing and homelessness, and immigration. This textbook develops students’ ability to think critically about the role...
Article
At Home/Chez Soi was a Canadian research demonstration project that tested the impacts of the Pathways Housing First model on people experiencing serious mental illness and homelessness in 5 cities across the country. In this article, we tell the 10-year story of At Home/Chez Soi, its positive outcomes, and how it contributed to transformative chan...
Article
Better Beginnings, Better Futures is an evidence‐based early childhood initiative that promotes the healthy development of children and families in economically disadvantaged communities. The Better Beginnings model involves the development of community‐driven programs through resident involvement that are integrated with existing services, univers...
Article
Full-text available
Housing First can be implemented beyond demontration sites without new resources. Using an intentional implementation strategy communities implemented high‐fidelity programs. One key implementation challenge was accessing affordable housing and housing subsidies. By helping develop housing specialists and reflective practice, the TTA facilitated ef...
Article
Full-text available
In this study, we examine changes in the homeless‐serving system in the context of a training and technical assistance initiative to scale up Housing First (HF) in 6 Canadian communities. Based on qualitative data from focus groups and individual interviews with key stakeholders (k = 7, n = 35) and field notes gathered over a 3‐year period (n = 146...
Article
We present interim findings of a cross-site case study of an initiative to expand Housing First (HF) in Canada through training and technical assistance (TTA). HF is an evidence-based practice designed to end chronic homelessness for consumers of mental health services. We draw upon concepts from implementation science and systems change theory to...
Article
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Many strategies guide knowledge-sharing to enhance uptake of evidence-based programs in practice, though few have been designed specifically for community settings. We highlight the importance of understanding and evaluating knowledge mobilisation in community settings and present a framework for evaluating knowledge mobilisation that captures shor...
Article
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_ The purpose of this study was to understand the sustainability of the At Home/Chez Soi (AHCS) project with respect to its wider impact on homelessness policy in Canada and internationally. Using a qualitative case study approach with 15 key informant interviews (with project leaders and decision-makers) and archival data, we examined the strategi...
Article
This research examined the sustainability of Canada's At Home/Chez Soi Housing First (HF) programs for homeless persons with mental illness 2 years after the end of the demonstration phase of a large (more than 2000 participants enrolled), five-site, randomized controlled trial. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 142 participants (key infor...
Article
In this paper, we outline three genealogies of housing policy in Canada-affordable housing, mental health housing, and housing for homeless persons-and present the focus, research, and strengths/critiques of these genealogies. The increased visibility and adoption of Housing First (HF) in Canadian policy has created tension between groups working o...
Article
Qualitative narrative interviews were conducted with 195 participants with histories of homelessness and mental illness at baseline and at an 18-month follow-up. Participants were randomly assigned at baseline to Housing First (HF; n = 119) or treatment as usual (TAU; n = 76) in five Canadian cities. Changes in consumers’ narratives over time were...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: To provide a review of the extant research literature on Housing First (HF) for people with severe mental illness (SMI) who are homeless and to describe the findings of the recently completed At Home (AH)-Chez soi (CS) demonstration project. HF represents a paradigm shift in the delivery of community mental health services, whereby peop...
Article
Full-text available
Using the case of a large-scale, multi-site Canadian Housing First research demonstration project for homeless people with mental illness, At Home/Chez Soi, we illustrate the value of qualitative methods in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a complex community intervention. We argue that quantitative RCT research can neither capture the comple...
Article
Objective: This study examined whether Housing First fidelity ratings correspond to program operation descriptions from administrative data and predict client outcomes. Methods: A multisite, randomized controlled trial (At Home/Chez Soi) in five Canadian cities included two assessments of 12 programs over two years. Outcomes for 1,158 clients we...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the long-term cost-savings of the Better Beginnings, Better Futures (BBBF) initiative, a community-based early intervention project for young children living in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods during their transition to primary school. A quasi-experimental, longitudinal two-group design was used to compare costs an...
Article
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This study documented the perspectives of landlords and clinical and housing service teams for head lease (agency holds the lease) versus rent subsidy (tenant holds the lease) in housing programs for adults with psychiatric disabilities. Sixteen landlords and 24 housing and clinical team members participated in individual or focus-group interviews....
Article
Full-text available
This article examines later fidelity and implementation of a five-site pan-Canadian Housing First research demonstration project. The average fidelity score across five Housing First domains and 10 programs was high in the first year of operation (3.47/4) and higher in the third year of operation (3.62/4). Qualitative interviews (36 key informant i...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: This study compared the life changes of homeless people with mental illness participating in Housing First or treatment as usual and examined factors related to various changes. Methods: Semistructured narrative interviews were conducted with 219 participants in five Canadian cities at baseline; 197 were interviewed again at 18 months...
Article
Planning the implementation of evidence-based mental health services entails commitment to both rigour and community relevance, which entails navigating the challenges of collaboration between professionals and community members in a planning environment which is neither 'top-down' nor 'bottom-up'. This research focused on collaboration among diffe...
Article
Full-text available
This qualitative study examined how homeless individuals with mental illness experience pathways into homelessness. Study participants were enrolled in the At Home/Chez Soi project, a Pan-Canadian Randomized Controlled Trial comparing the Housing First approach with Treatment as Usual for homeless individuals. This inquiry is grounded in social eco...
Article
Full-text available
Better Beginnings, Better Futures [a mejor comienzo, mejor futuro] es una iniciativa dirigida a la primera infancia para fomentar el desarrollo de la salud de niños y familias en comunidades económicamente desfavorecidas. El enfoque Better Beginnings es ecológico, holístico, impulsado por la comunidad, integrado en los servicios y el apoyo existent...
Article
Full-text available
We reviewed research that has evaluated prevention programs for child abuse and neglect. A few universal educational and parenting programs (e.g., abusive head trauma educational programs, enhanced pediatric care interventions) have been found to be effective. Moreover, a few selective home visitation programs (e.g., the Nurse-Family Partnership pr...
Article
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This article is a conversation between two critical community psychologists about the compatibility and theoretical connections between their field and qualitative research. Critical community psychology is driven by values of power-sharing and social justice, and is praxis-oriented, emphasizing solidarity with oppressed people to create transforma...
Article
This research sought to determine whether the implementation of Housing First in a large-scale, multi-site Canadian project for homeless participants with mental illness shows high fidelity to the Pathways Housing First model, and what factors help or hinder implementation. Fidelity ratings for 10 Housing First programs in five cities were made by...
Article
Full-text available
I present ideas about how community psychologists, as researcher-activists, can influence public policy. I begin by describing the current neo-liberal era, noting the immense obstacles it poses to progressive policy change. Next I contrast two approaches to understanding policy formation, evidence-based policy and discursive policy analysis, and ar...
Article
Better Beginnings, Better Futures is a large-scale, multi-year, longitudinal research-demonstration project designed to reduce children's problems, promote healthy child development, and enhance family and community environments in three economically disadvantaged communities in the province of Ontario, Canada. The initial intervention was implemen...
Article
Full-text available
An interesting question concerns how large-scale (mental) health services policy initiatives come into being, and the role of evidence within the decision-making process behind their origins. This paper illustrates the process by which motivation to address homelessness, in the context of the upcoming 2010 Vancouver Olympics, was leveraged into a p...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the long-term impacts of the Better Beginnings, Better Futures project, a universal, community-based prevention program. Generativity was studied as an indicator of positive mental health, using a narrative analysis of youths' stories about turning points in their lives. A quasi-experimental design was used to compare youths age...
Article
Full-text available
This comparative study examined how participation in an early childhood development (ECD) program, Better Beginnings, Better Futures, for children (ages 4-8) relates to sense of community (SOC) in later adolescence (ages 18-19). Youths’ stories (N = 96) about community experiences, collected by semistructured, open-ended interviews, were quantitati...
Article
Full-text available
This research focused on the relationships between a national team and five project sites across Canada in planning a complex, community intervention for homeless people with mental illness called At Home/Chez Soi, which is based on the Housing First model. The research addressed two questions: (a) what are the challenges in planning? and (b) what...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: This paper is a methodological case study that describes the At Home/Chez Soi (Housing First) Initiative's mixed-methods strategy for implementation evaluation and discusses the value of these methods in evaluating the implementation of such complex population health interventions. Target population: The Housing First (HF) model is be...
Article
The evolution of housing approaches for people with serious mental illness is described and analyzed. A distinction is made between three different approaches to housing: (a) custodial, (b) supportive, and (c) supported. Research evidence is reviewed that suggests the promise of supported housing, but more research is needed that compares supported...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the long-term effects of the Better Beginnings, Better Futures project, a community-based early childhood development program, on 18-19 year-old youths' narratives about turning points in their lives. The sample consisted of youth who participated in Better Beginnings from ages 4-8 (n = 62) and youth from a comparison community...
Article
Although comprehensive and ecological approaches to early childhood prevention are commonly advocated, there are few examples of long-term follow-up of such programs. In this monograph, we investigate the medium- and long-term effects of an ecological, community-based prevention project for primary school children and families living in three econo...
Article
Community-based prevention programs strive to foster the composition of positive life stories, in part, by promoting active participation in community settings. This article used life narratives of youth to explore the experience of community participation and showed how such participation influenced their lives. Youth aged 18–19 years who particip...
Article
This research compared changes in the social networks and social support of 30 low-income single mothers who had been separated from their husbands for less than eight monlhs with 20 low- income manied women and 40 high-income manied women. All par- ticipants were interviewed three times over an 18-month period. The separated women reported smaller...
Article
Full-text available
This paper explores the use of participatory action research (PAR) with children diagnosed with mental health issues. We argue that critiques from the sociology of childhood are useful for guiding PAR with children. First, we describe and critique values and assumptions that underlie research and practice with children who experience mental health...
Article
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The contributions of Canadian community psychologists to ethics, theory, methodology, research, and practise are highlighted in this article Important debates about ethical issues in psychological research and practise have been advanced by Canadian community psychologists Canadian community psychologists have also introduced theoretical perspectiv...
Article
The introduction to the special section on community psychology in Canada provides background information about the field in Canada and provides summaries of the four articles and the commentary that comprise the issue. The articles address (a) theory, research, and practice in community psychology; (b) training in community psychology; (c) communi...
Article
11 separated and 27 married women were studied longitudinally. Ss completed measures to determine life strains, coping strategies, emotional well-being, and positive and negative changes (since the last interview). Recently separated women reported more growth-oriented coping and positive life changes than did married women, but no significant diff...
Chapter
Full-text available
In deciding whether or not to collaborate with one another in a research partnership, researchers and members of mental health self-help (MHSH) initiatives should address several questions. What values will underlie the partnership? How will power be shared? What will the focus of the research be? What type of knowledge will be sought? How will the...
Chapter
In this chapter, we provide a framework for understanding and improving housing and quality of life (QOL). We begin by reviewing different approaches to the study of QOL, including the social indicators approach and the assessment of objective life conditions, subjective well-being, and positive psychological and social functioning. Adopting an eco...
Article
In this paper we describe a qualitative study of four Canadian neighbourhood centers jointly created by a sponsoring agency and community members to prevent problems of the children and adults living in these neighbourhoods. Individual and focus group interviews with staff, community members, and other agency workers were used to understand the lif...
Article
In the early 20th century, when the course of serious illness was first described, scientists offered little hope of recovery for people diagnosed with illnesses like schizophrenia. They were told to expect only continuing psychotic symptoms and progressive dementia and were given no hope of working and living independently. Since then, research ha...
Article
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Background: Mental health consumer-run organizations are becoming more prominent in mental health systems, but little is known about their nature or impacts. Aims: The objectives were to determine the nature of member participation in consumer-run organizations and how participation is related to outcomes. Method: We prospectively studied 79 new me...
Article
This paper describes and analyzes the impact of a utilization-focused evaluation of the Ontario Prevention Clearinghouse (OPC). To achieve its primary goal of advancing primary prevention and health promotion programs in the province, the OPC provides information and consultation, networking, and educational services to people who request informati...
Article
The purpose of the paper is to reflect on value dilemmas in mental health consumer-run organizations and to discuss implications for research, policy, and practice. We review the roots of consumer-run organizations in the self-help movement and the psychiatric survivor liberation movement, focusing on the distinctive values espoused by consumer-run...
Article
This article contrasts values associated with the delivery of housing programs for people with serious mental illness with the typical topics pertaining to housing that are studied by researchers. Six values were identified through a search and content analysis of the literature on housing for people with serious mental illness. A second review of...
Article
A review of 16 controlled outcome evaluations of housing and support interventions for people with mental illness who have been homeless revealed significant reductions in homelessness and hospitalization and improvements in other outcomes (e.g., well-being) resulting from programs that provided permanent housing and support, assertive community tr...
Article
The objective of this study was to evaluate the impacts of participation in mental health Consumer/Survivor Initiatives (CSIs), organizations run by and for people with mental illness. A nonequivalent comparison group design was used to compare three groups of participants: (a) those who were continually active in CSIs over a 36-month period (n = 2...
Article
Since the 1970s mental health consumer-run organizations have come to offer not only mutual support, but they have also adopted agendas for broader social change. Despite an awareness of the need for system level efforts that create supportive environments for their members, there has been limited research demonstrating how their system level activ...
Article
This article describes recent work to support recommendations for improving Ontario’s system of housing for people with serious mental illness. This multifaceted project engaged stakeholders in discussions concerning strategies for improving the system based on (a) values that underlie housing programs, (b) evidence of effective housing practices,...
Article
This research examined two premises of supported housing: (a) that consumer choice/control over housing and support and the quality of housing are important contributors to the subjective quality of life and adaptation to community living of people with mental illness, and (b) that apartments provide mental health consumers with more choice/control...
Chapter
Full-text available
The authors provide a brief portrait of the socio-political-historical context of community psychology (CP) in Canada identifying linguistic, geographical, gender, and racial challenges, as well as the progressive social policies that have advanced the development and expression of CP in Canada. The growth of CP is mapped out over four decades punc...
Article
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This paper discusses issues in the development of collaborative efforts among stakeholders in a community housing and support system dedicated to people with serious mental illness. Whereas community development efforts directed at localities are more common, the increasing recognition of the system‐level barriers facing marginalized groups require...
Article
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A multisite evaluation of community mental health services is used to answer two questions: (a) How do diagnosis, functioning, and self-assessments of consumer/survivor initiative (CSI) and assertive community treatment (ACT) participants compare?, and (b) What other supports/services are CSI and ACT participants using? The sample is from an Ontari...
Article
Full-text available
Mental health consumer-run organizations are alternatives to mainstream mental health services, and they have the dual focus of supporting members and creating systems change. The existing literature suggests that these organizations have beneficial impacts on social support, community integration, personal empowerment, subjective quality of life,...
Article
The purpose of this article is to report on the system-level findings of a longitudinal study of four mental health consumerñrun self-help organizations. Quantitative and qualitative data revealed that staff and members of the four Consumer/Survivor Initiatives (CSIs) participated actively in system-level activities, including community planning, p...
Article
This article examines the outcomes of participation in mental health Consumer/Survivor Initiatives (CSIs) and identifies helpful qualities of CSIs through a longitudinal, qualitative study that involved in-depth interviews of people who experienced severe mental health challenges in Ontario, Canada. We used a nonequivalent control group design in w...
Article
To evaluate the impacts of participation in mental health Consumer/Survivor Initiatives (CSIs), we used a nonequivalent control group design to compare new, active participants in CSIs ( n = 61) with nonactive participants ( n = 57) at baseline, 9-month, and 18-month follow-up intervals. The two groups were comparable at baseline on a wide range of...
Article
It is important to understand housing and mental health issues from the perspective of psychiatric survivors. This paper reports findings from a series of focus group meetings held with survivors of mental illness to address issues concerning housing preferences and housing needs. The discussions were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using an et...
Article
This article discusses some of the possible advantages of a poetic representation of social experience through a selection of four poems based on the words and organized by the salience and time sequence “logic” of participants in a study of formerly homeless mentally ill men and women who are currently housed. The initial report was a qualitative...
Article
We present the findings of a narrative approach to the evaluation of supportive housing for formerly homeless people who have experienced serious mental illness. According to the accounts of 11 men and 9 women, their youth and adult years were filled with personal problems, troubled relationships, and a lack of adequate social resources. Since ente...
Article
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This article presents a framework for understanding the concept of recovery from serious mental illnesses and other life struggles. The framework is based on findings from a longitudinal, qualitative study that involved in-depth interviews with 28 people who experienced serious mental health challenges. The purpose of this article is to clarify the...