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There is a scarcity of specialist trainers and supervisors for psychosocial interventions in low- and middle-income countries. A cascaded model of training and supervision was developed to sustain delivery of an evidence-based peer-delivered intervention for perinatal depression (the Thinking Healthy Programme) in rural Pakistan. The study aimed to evaluate the model.
Mixed methods were employed as part of a randomised controlled trial of the intervention. Quantitative data consisted of the peers' competencies assessed during field training and over the implementation phase of the intervention, using a specially developed checklist. Qualitative data were collected from peers and their trainers through 11 focus groups during the second and third year of intervention rollout.
Following training, 43 peers out of 45 (95%) achieved at least a ‘satisfactory’ level of competency (scores of ⩾70% on the Quality and Competency Checklist). Of the cohort of 45 peers initially recruited 34 (75%) were retained over 3 years and showed sustained or improved competencies over time. Qualitatively, the key factors contributing to peers' competency were use of interactive training and supervision techniques, the trainer–peer relationship, and their cultural similarity. The partnership with community health workers and use of primary health care facilities for training and supervision gave credibility to the peers in the community.
The study demonstrates that lay-workers such as peers can be trained and supervised to deliver a psychological intervention using a cascaded model, thus addressing the barrier of scarcity of specialist trainers and supervisors.
Development disorders and delays are recognised as a public health priority and included in the WHO mental health gap action programme (mhGAP). Parents Skills Training (PST) is recommended as a key intervention for such conditions under the WHO mhGAP intervention guide. However, sustainable and scalable delivery of such evidence based interventions remains a challenge. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness and scaled-up implementation of locally adapted WHO PST programme delivered by family volunteers in rural Pakistan.
The study is a two arm single-blind effectiveness implementation-hybrid cluster randomised controlled trial. WHO PST programme will be delivered by ‘family volunteers’ to the caregivers of children with developmental disorders and delays in community-based settings. The intervention consists of the WHO PST along with the WHO mhGAP intervention for developmental disorders adapted for delivery using the android application on a tablet device. A total of 540 parent-child dyads will be recruited from 30 clusters. The primary outcome is child's functioning, measured by WHO Disability Assessment Schedule – child version (WHODAS-Child) at 6 months post intervention. Secondary outcomes include children's social communication and joint engagement with their caregiver, social emotional well-being, parental health related quality of life, family empowerment and stigmatizing experiences. Mixed method will be used to collect data on implementation outcomes. Trial has been retrospectively registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02792894).
This study addresses implementation challenges in the real world by incorporating evidence-based intervention strategies with social, technological and business innovations. If proven effective, the study will contribute to scaled-up implementation of evidence-based packages for public mental health in low resource settings.
Registered with ClinicalTrials.gov as Family Networks (FaNs) for Children with Developmental Disorders and Delays. Identifier: NCT02792894 Registered on 6 July 2016.
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