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A community health volunteer delivered problem-solving therapy mobile application based on the Friendship Bench ‘Inuka Coaching’ in Kenya: A pilot cohort study

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  • Asmae Doukani
  • Robin van Dalen
  • Hristo Valev
  • Annie Njenga
  • Francesco Sera
  • Dixon Chibanda
Article numbere9
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/03/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Global Mental Health
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)1-11
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date10/03/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has the largest care gap for common mental disorders (CMDs) globally, heralding the use of cost-cutting approaches such as task-shifting and digital technologies as viable approaches for expanding the mental health workforce. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a problem-solving therapy (PST) intervention that is delivered by community health volunteers (CHVs) through a mobile application called ‘Inuka coaching’ in Kenya.

A pilot prospective cohort study recruited participants from 18 health centres in Kenya. People who self-screened were eligible if they scored 8 or higher on the Self-Reporting Questionnaire-20 (SRQ-20), were aged 18 years or older, conversant in written and spoken English, and familiar with the use of smart mobile devices. The intervention consisted of four PST mobile application chat-sessions delivered by CHVs. CMD measures were administered at baseline, 4-weeks (post-treatment), and at 3-months follow-up assessment.

In all, 80 participants consented to the study, of which 60 participants (female, n = 38; male, n = 22) completed their 4-week assessments, and 52 participants completed their 3-month follow-up assessment. The results showed a significant improvement over time on the Self-Reporting Questionnaire-20 (SRQ-20). Higher-range income, not reporting suicidal ideation, being aged over 30 years, and being male were associated with higher CMD symptom reduction.

To our knowledge, this report is the first to pilot a PST intervention that is delivered by CHVs through a locally developed mobile application in Kenya, to which clinically meaningful improvements were found. However, a randomised-controlled trial is required to robustly evaluate this intervention.