Development and assessment of the feasibility of a Zika family support programme: a study protocol

Wellcome Open Res. 2019 May 13;4:80. doi: 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15085.1. eCollection 2019.


The Zika virus outbreak in Brazil in 2015 affected thousands of people. Zika is now known to cause congenital malformations leading to impairments and developmental delays in affected children, including Congenital Zika Syndrome (CZS). Children with CZS have complex care needs. Caregivers require significant levels of support to meet these needs, and there are large gaps in healthcare services. This study aims to develop, pilot and assess the feasibility and scalability of a community-based Family Support Programme for caregivers of children with CZS. The programme is adapted from the Getting to Know Cerebral Palsy (GTKCP) programme for the context of CZS in Brazil. GTKCP is a 10-session programme held with 6-10 caregivers in the local community. It includes practical, educational, peer-support and psychosocial aspects, which aim to improve confidence and capacity to care for a child with CP, and quality of life and empowerment of caregivers. The research project contains four components: Ascertaining need for the caregiver programme: a mixed-methods approach that included two literature reviews, interviews with key stakeholders in country, and incorporation of findings from the Social and Economic Impact of Zika study.Adapting GTKCP for the context of CZS and Brazil: undertaken with guidance from technical experts.Pilot testing the intervention: deliver the 10-session programme to one group of caregivers of children with CZS in Rio de Janeiro and another in Greater Salvador.Update the manual through fast-track learning from participant and facilitator feedback. Assessing the feasibility of the intervention for scale up: deliver the updated programme to two groups each in Rio de Janeiro and Greater Salvador, and evaluate the acceptability, demand, implementation, practicality, adaptation, integration, expansion, and limited efficacy, through questionnaires, direct observation, semi-structured interviews and cost calculation. The project has ethics approval in both the UK and Brazil.

Keywords: Brazil; Zika; caregiver; congenital Zika syndrome; disability; early intervention; family; microcephaly.

Grant support

Funding for this study was provided by Wellcome Trust and DFID (grant 206719).