The Shamiri group intervention for adolescent anxiety and depression: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial of a lay-provider-delivered, school-based intervention in Kenya

Transforming mental health for all

Abstract

Background

Developing low-cost, socio-culturally appropriate, and scalable interventions for youth depression and anxiety symptoms in low-income regions such as countries in sub-Saharan Africa is a global mental health priority. We developed and intend to evaluate one such intervention for adolescent depression and anxiety in Kenya. The intervention, named Shamiri (a Swahili word for “thrive”), draws upon evidence-based components of brief interventions that involve nonclinical principles rather than treatment of psychopathology (e.g., growth mindset, gratitude, and virtues).

Methods

Four hundred twenty Kenyan adolescents (ages 13–18) with clinically elevated depression and/or anxiety symptoms will be randomized to either the 4-week Shamiri group intervention or a group study-skills control intervention of equal duration and dosage. Participating adolescents will meet in groups of 8–15, led by a high- school graduate trained to deliver Shamiri as a lay-provider. Adolescents will self-report primary outcome measures (depression—measured by the PHQ-8, and anxiety symptoms—measured by the GAD-7) and secondary outcome measures (perceived social support, perceived academic control, self-reported optimism and happiness, loneliness, and academic grades) at the 2-week intervention midpoint, 4-week post-intervention endpoint, and 2-week post-intervention follow-up. We predict that adolescents in the Shamiri group when compared to the study-skills control group, will show greater improvements in primary outcomes and secondary outcomes.

Discussion

Results may suggest that a brief, lay-provider delivered, school-based intervention may reduce depression and anxiety symptoms, improving academic outcomes and other psychosocial outcomes in adolescents with clinically-elevated symptoms in sub-Saharan Africa.

Trial registration: Pan African Clinical Trials Registry PACTR201906525818462. Registered on 12 June 2019.

Keywords: Adolescents, Sub-Saharan Africa, Global mental health, Depression, Anxiety, Shamiri

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