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The aim of this feasibility trial was to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of the locally adapted Group Problem Management Plus (PM+) intervention for women in the conflict affected settings in Swat, Pakistan.
This mixed-methods study incorporated a quantitative component consisting of a two arm cluster randomised controlled feasibility trial, and qualitative evaluation of the acceptability of the Group PM+ to a range of stakeholder groups. For the quantitative component, on average from each of the 20 Lady Health Workers (LHWs) catchment area (20 clusters), six women were screened and recruited for the trial with score of >2 on the General Health Questionnaire and score of >16 on the WHO Disability Assessment Schedule. These LHW clusters were randomised on a 1 : 1 allocation ratio using a computer-based software through a simple randomisation method to the Group PM+ intervention or Enhanced Usual Care. The Group PM+ intervention consisted of five weekly sessions of 2 h duration delivered by local non-specialist females under supervision. The primary outcome was individual psychological distress, measured by levels of anxiety and depression on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale at 7th week after baseline. Secondary outcomes include symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), general psychological profile, levels of functioning and generalised psychological distress. Intervention acceptability was explored through in-depth interviews.
The results show that lay-helpers with no prior mental health experience can be trained to achieve the desired competency to successfully deliver the intervention in community settings under supervision. There was a good intervention uptake, with Group PM+ considered useful by participants, their families and lay-helpers. The outcome evaluation, which was not based on a large enough study to identify statistically significant results, indicated statistically significant improvements in depression, anxiety, general psychological profile and functioning. The PTSD symptoms and depressive disorder scores showed a trend in favour of the intervention.
This trial showed robust acceptance in the local settings with delivery by non-specialists under supervision by local trained females. The trial paves the way for further adaptation and exploration of the outcomes through larger-scale implementation and definitive randomised controlled trials in the local settings.
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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