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Psychological interventions that are brief, acceptable, effective and can be delivered by non-specialists are especially necessary in low- and middle-income countries, where mental health systems are unable to address the high level of psychosocial needs. Problem Management Plus (PM+) is a five-session intervention designed for those impaired by psychological distress while living in communities affected by adversity. Individual PM+ has demonstrated effectiveness in reducing distress in Kenya and Pakistan, and a group version of PM+ (Group PM+) was effective for conflict-affected women in Pakistan. This paper describes a feasibility and acceptability trial of locally adapted Group PM+ for women and men in an earthquake-affected region of rural Nepal.
In this feasibility cluster randomised controlled trial, participants in the experimental arm were offered five sessions of Group PM+ and participants in the control arm received enhanced usual care (EUC), which entailed brief psycho-education and providing referral options to primary care services with health workers trained in the mental health Gap Action Programme Intervention Guide (mhGAP-IG). A mixed-methods design was used to assess the feasibility and acceptability of Group PM+. Feasibility was assessed with criteria including fidelity and retention of participants. Acceptability was assessed through in-depth interviews with participants, family members, programme staff and other stakeholders. The primary clinical outcome was depression symptoms assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) administered at baseline and 8–8.5 weeks post-baseline (i.e. after completion of Group PM+ or EUC).
We recruited 121 participants (83% women and 17% men), with equal allocation to the Group PM+ and EUC arms (1:1). Group PM+ was delivered over five 2.5–3 hour sessions by trained and supervised gender-matched local non-specialists, with an average attendance of four out of five sessions. The quantitative and qualitative results demonstrated feasibility and acceptability for non-specialists to deliver Group PM+. Though the study was not powered to assess for effectiveness, for all five key outcome measures, including the primary clinical outcome, the estimated mean improvement was larger in the Group PM+ arm than the EUC arm.
The intervention and trial procedures were acceptable to participants, family members, and programme staff. The communities and participants found the intervention to be beneficial. Because feasibility and acceptability were established in this trial, a fully powered randomised controlled trial will be conducted for larger scale implementation to determine the effectiveness of the intervention in Nepal.
As reported from studies conducted in Nepal, between 15% and 57% of adults had ever consumed alcohol and between 1.5% and 25% of adults have alcohol use disorders (AUD). Few studies in Nepal have identified the correlates of consumption or described the help-seeking patterns and stigma among those affected with AUD.
Interviewers administered the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) as part of population-based surveys of adults in Chitwan District between 2013 and 2017. We conducted a secondary analysis to identify sociodemographic and health-related correlates of recent alcohol consumption using the χ2 test, to identify correlates of total AUDIT scores among men who drink using negative binomial regression, and to describe the treatment-seeking and stigma beliefs of men with AUD.
Over half (53.7%, 95% CI 50.4–57.0) of men (n = 1130) recently consumed alcohol, and there were associations between being a drinker with age, religion, caste, education, occupation and tobacco use. Nearly one in four (23.8%, 95% CI 20.2–27.8%) male drinkers screened positive for AUD, and AUDIT scores were associated with age, caste, marital status, occupation, tobacco use, depression, functional status and suicidal ideation. Few (13.3%, 95% CI 11.7–15.0) women (n = 2352) recently consumed alcohol, and 5.3% (95% CI 3.0–9.1) of female drinkers screened positive for AUD. Among AUDIT-positive men, 38% spoke to another person about their problems and 80% had internalized stigma.
This study revealed that nearly one in four men who drink likely have AUD. Higher AUDIT scores were associated with depression, suicidality, dysfunctionality and internalized stigma.
Suicidal behaviour is an under-reported and hidden cause of death in most low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) due to lack of national systematic reporting for cause-specific mortality, high levels of stigma and religious or cultural sanctions. The lack of information on non-fatal suicidal behaviour (ideation, plans and attempts) in LMIC is a major barrier to design and implementation of prevention strategies. This study aims to determine the prevalence of non-fatal suicidal behaviour within community- and health facility-based populations in LMIC.
Twelve-month prevalence of suicidal ideation, plans and attempts were established through community samples (n = 6689) and primary care attendees (n = 6470) from districts in Ethiopia, Uganda, South Africa, India and Nepal using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview suicidality module. Participants were also screened for depression and alcohol use disorder.
We found that one out of ten persons (10.3%) presenting at primary care facilities reported suicidal ideation within the past year, and 1 out of 45 (2.2%) reported attempting suicide in the same period. The range of suicidal ideation was 3.5–11.1% in community samples and 5.0–14.8% in health facility samples. A higher proportion of facility attendees reported suicidal ideation than community residents (10.3 and 8.1%, respectively). Adults in the South African facilities were most likely to endorse suicidal ideation (14.8%), planning (9.5%) and attempts (7.4%). Risk profiles associated with suicidal behaviour (i.e. being female, younger age, current mental disorders and lower educational and economic status) were highly consistent across countries.
The high prevalence of suicidal ideation in primary care points towards important opportunities to implement suicide risk reduction initiatives. Evidence-supported strategies including screening and treatment of depression in primary care can be implemented through the World Health Organization's mental health Global Action Programme suicide prevention and depression treatment guidelines. Suicidal ideation and behaviours in the community sample will require detection strategies to identify at risks persons not presenting to health facilities.
Two large earthquakes in 2015 caused widespread destruction in Nepal. This study aimed to examine frequency of common mental health and psychosocial problems and their correlates following the earthquakes.
A stratified multi-stage cluster sampling design was employed to randomly select 513 participants (aged 16 and above) from three earthquake-affected districts in Nepal: Kathmandu, Gorkha and Sindhupalchowk, 4 months after the second earthquake. Outcomes were selected based on qualitative preparatory research and included symptoms of depression and anxiety (Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25); post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD Checklist-Civilian); hazardous alcohol use (AUDIT-C); symptoms indicating severe psychological distress (WHO-UNHCR Assessment Schedule of Serious Symptoms in Humanitarian Settings (WASSS)); suicidal ideation (Composite International Diagnostic Interview); perceived needs (Humanitarian Emergency Settings Perceived Needs Scale (HESPER)); and functional impairment (locally developed scale).
A substantial percentage of participants scored above validated cut-off scores for depression (34.3%, 95% CI 28.4–40.4) and anxiety (33.8%, 95% CI 27.6–40.6). Hazardous alcohol use was reported by 20.4% (95% CI 17.1–24.3) and 10.9% (95% CI 8.8–13.5) reported suicidal ideation. Forty-two percent reported that ‘distress’ was a serious problem in their community. Anger that was out of control (symptom from the WASSS) was reported by 33.7% (95% CI 29.5–38.2). Fewer people had elevated rates of PTSD symptoms above a validated cut-off score (5.2%, 95% CI 3.9–6.8), and levels of functional impairment were also relatively low. Correlates of elevated symptom scores were female gender, lower caste and greater number of perceived needs. Residing in Gorkha and Sindhupalchowk districts and lower caste were also associated with greater perceived needs. Higher levels of impaired functioning were associated with greater odds of depression and anxiety symptoms; impaired functioning was less strongly associated with PTSD symptoms.
Four months after the earthquakes in Nepal, one out of three adults experienced symptoms of depression and distressing levels of anger, one out of five engaged in hazardous drinking, and one out of ten had suicidal thoughts. However, posttraumatic stress symptoms and functional impairment were comparatively less frequent. Taken together, the findings suggest that there were significant levels of psychological distress but likely low levels of disorder. The findings highlight the importance of indicated prevention strategies to reduce the risk of distress progressing to disorder within post-disaster mental health systems of care.
Mental health service delivery models that are grounded in the local context are needed to address the substantial treatment gap in low- and middle-income countries.
To present the development, and content, of a mental healthcare plan (MHCP) in Nepal and assess initial feasibility.
A mixed methods formative study was conducted. Routine monitoring and evaluation data, including client flow and reports of satisfaction, were obtained from patients (n = 135) during the pilot-testing phase in two health facilities.
The resulting MHCP consists of 12 packages, divided over community, health facility and organisation platforms. Service implementation data support the real-life applicability of the MHCP, with reasonable treatment uptake. Key barriers were identified and addressed, namely dissatisfaction with privacy, perceived burden among health workers and high drop-out rates.
The MHCP follows a collaborative care model encompassing community and primary healthcare interventions.
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