Building community-based helping practices by training peer-father counselors: A novel intervention to reduce drinking and depressive symptoms among fathers through an expanded masculinity lens

Int J Drug Policy. 2021 Jun 5;95:103291. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2021.103291. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Background: Problem drinking and co-occurring depression symptoms affect men at high rates and are associated with increased risk of family violence. In low- and middle-income countries, there is a large treatment gap for services due to a lack of human resources. Moreover, masculine norms are a barrier to men seeking treatment for drinking and depression in healthcare settings. We examined an approach for engaging peer-fathers to deliver an intervention to reduce alcohol use, improve depressive symptoms, and increase family involvement among fathers in Kenya with problem drinking. The intervention-LEAD (Learn, Engage, Act, Dedicate)-combines motivational interviewing, behavioral activation, and masculinity discussion strategies.

Methods: Community and religious leaders nominated fathers with no mental health training to serve as counselors (N=12); clients were recruited through community referrals. Nominated fathers completed a 10-day training beginning with treatment principles followed by manualized content. Three counselors were selected after training based on quantitative and qualitative assessments of communication skills, intervention knowledge, willingness to learn, ability to use feedback, and empathy. Supervision was tiered with local supervisors and clinical psychologist consultation. During LEAD delivery, counselor fidelity, delivery quality, and general and intervention-specific competencies were assessed. To evaluate acceptability, qualitative interviews were conducted with lay-counselors and clients (N=11). Descriptive statistics were calculated for quantitative outcomes; interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis.

Results: Peer-father lay counselors treated nine clients, with eight completing treatment. Counselors reached high rates of fidelity (93.8%) and high to optimal ratings on quality of delivery, clinical competency, and intervention-specific competencies. Qualitative results suggested high acceptability, with counselors expressing satisfaction and empowerment in their roles. Clients likewise described positive experiences with counselors.

Conclusions: Findings provide initial support for the acceptability and feasibility of recruitment, selection, and training processes for peer-father lay counselors to deliver LEAD through a lens of masculinity that aligned with clients help-acceptance practices.

Keywords: Alcohol treatment; Depression symptoms; Low- and middle-income countries; Men; Task-shifting.