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Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is an urgent global health problem. Root causes for VAWG include the individual- and family-level factors of alcohol abuse, mental health problems, violence exposure, and related adverse experiences. Few studies in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) have assessed the effectiveness of psychological interventions for reducing VAWG. This randomized controlled trial, part of the What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls consortium, examines the effectiveness of a common elements treatment approach (CETA) for reducing VAWG and comorbid alcohol abuse among families in Zambia.
Study participants are families consisting of three persons: an adult woman, her male husband or partner, and one of her children aged 8–17 (if available). Eligibility criteria include experience of moderate-to-severe intimate partner violence by the woman and hazardous alcohol use by her male partner. Family units are randomized to receive CETA or treatment as usual. The primary outcome is VAWG as measured by the Severity of Violence Against Women Scale, assessed along with secondary outcomes at 24 months post-baseline. Interim assessments are also conducted at 4–5 months (following CETA completion) and 12 months post-baseline.
This ongoing trial is one of the first in sub-Saharan Africa to evaluate the use of an evidence-based common elements approach for reducing VAWG by targeting a range of individual- and family-level factors, including alcohol abuse. Results of this trial will inform policy on what interventions work to prevent VAWG in LMIC with local perspectives on scale up and wider implementation.
Studies from low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) indicate that the use of audio computer-assisted self-interviewing (ACASI) is associated with more accurate reporting of sensitive behaviors (e.g. substance use and sexual risk behaviors) compared with interviewer-administered questionnaires. There is a lack of published information on the process of designing, developing, and implementing ACASI in LMIC. In this paper we describe our experience implementing an ACASI system for use with a population of orphans and vulnerable children in Zambia.
A questionnaire of mental health, substance use, and HIV risk behaviors was converted into an ACASI system, tested in pilot and validity studies, and implemented for use in a randomized controlled trial. Successes, barriers, and challenges associated with each stage in the development and implementation of ACASI are described.
We were able to convert a lengthy and complex survey into an ACASI system that was feasible for use in Zambia. Lessons learned include the importance of: (1) piloting the written and electronic versions; (2) proper and extensive training for study assessors to use ACASI and for those doing voice recordings; and (3) attention to logistics such as appropriate space, internet, and power.
We found that ACASI was feasible and acceptable in Zambia with proper planning, training, and supervision. Given mounting evidence indicating that ACASI provides more accurate self-report data and immediate data download compared with interview-administered measures, it may be an effective and economical alternative for behavioral health research studies in LMIC.
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