The ePLH study will evaluate the feasibility of an online version of the Parenting for Lifelong Health programmes – ParentChat – for young children and adolescents delivered via online text messaging platforms such as WhatsApp or Viber.
With over a billion children out of school or childcare due to COVID-19, families across the world are struggling to care for their children. According to a World Bank report, parents and caregivers are coping with movement restrictions, stress, illness and financial insecurity, along with the threat of severe economic recession in the next two years. Families are under extreme stress, leading to a global escalation of child abuse.
Parenting for Lifelong Health (PLH) is a suite of free parenting programmes to promote positive child-parent relationships in low-resource settings. These programmes have been developed and rigorously tested through a collaboration between WHO, Stellenbosch University in South Africa, the University of Cape Town in South Africa, the universities of Oxford and Bangor in the United Kingdom, and UNICEF. After showing positive results in the evaluations, the programmes are currently being scaled up in over 20 low- and middle-income countries across Sub-Saharan Africa, South-eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean. Additionally, several studies of the programmes are currently underway to further develop the evidence base for these interventions.
The ePLH Study
Due to the impact of COVID-19, there are limitations on the capacity of traditional in-person parenting programmes to reach families in need. The aim of this study is to test the feasibility of an 8-week online parenting support group programme (ParentChat) for parents or caregivers with children aged 2 to 17. The pilot study is being conducted in six countries: Malaysia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Philippines, and South Africa. ParentChat provides evidence-based parenting information and interactive learning experiences via group-based online discussions using text, audio, and visual messages. The programme aims to reduce child maltreatment while improving parent-child relationships and child well-being.
- To test the feasibility of the ParentChat programme in six countries by assessing:
- Implementation fidelity and quality;
- Recruitment, retention, and engagement of participants;
- Cultural and contextual relevance, acceptability, and satisfaction;
- To evaluate at immediate post-test and at fortnightly intervals the initial effects of ParentChat on the primary outcome of physical and emotional abuse, and the proximal outcomes of positive parenting and parenting stress.
- To evaluate at immediate post-test the initial effects of ParentChat on the secondary outcomes of attitude toward corporal punishment, child behaviour problems, parental well-being, and parent exposure to intimate partner violence and coercion
Pilot testing of ParentChat has taken phased approach across implementing countries with programme delivery expected to be completed delivery by July 2021. Qualitative interviews with selected programme recipients and facilitators will be conducted immediately after programme delivery to enable an in-depth exploration of programme feasibility and to gain feedback on the parents' experience of ParentChat.