The Unsafe Behaviors Inventory (UBI) began back in 2011, when clients in a group treatment benefited from a list of unsafe behaviors. I started “collecting” them: every time I heard of a new one, I wrote it down. As the list grew longer, clients said, ” I didn’t know that was unsafe!” or sometimes “I did not realize how safe I actually am!”. With the help of the 2012 Amherst College summer Intern Sharleen Phillips and several subsequent summer interns, it became clear that the tool was very helpful and easy to use. However, to do a study to validate it as an effective measure required something called an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. The IRB process took more than five years, and we could not use much of the data that we had collected before it began. We had to start over.
Then my colleague Suzi Humbert told me that the men at her shelter who took the UBI saw things differently afterward and started to reduce their unsafe behaviors—on their own. With Suzi’s encouragement and Sharleen’s help, the UBI pilot study was born in 2012! It’s been challenging to get a quality study together with no institutional resources or grant money—just a private citizen trying to see if this tool is as powerful as Suzi said it was in her shelter. Over the years, the UBI has proven itself to be very effective, safe and relatively easy to administer. Now we just need enough data to say that with statistical significance!