Preparing for parenthood: developing a life-skills and socioemotional health program for young married couples in rural Pakistan

Atif, Najia, Rahman, Atif ORCID: 0000-0002-2066-4467, Zill-e-Huma and Hamdani, Syed Usman
(2021) Preparing for parenthood: developing a life-skills and socioemotional health program for young married couples in rural Pakistan. GLOBAL HEALTH ACTION, 14 (1). 1982485-.

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<h4>Background</h4>Socioemotional life-skills to negotiate important life-transitions such as marriage and parenthood are critical for the wellbeing of young couples and their offspring, but programs addressing this issue are lacking in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs).<h4>Objective</h4>This study describes the development of a 'life-skills' program for young married women, their husbands and families, living in rural settings in Pakistan.<h4>Methods</h4>Our methods included: a) a targeted review of relevant literature on life-skills and mental health in young people, b) a qualitative study and, c) intervention development workshops with experts and stakeholders. The review showed that common life-skills employed as part of psychosocial interventions in LMICs were communication skills, problem-solving, assessing relations, stress management, emotional regulation, identifying/eliciting affect, and self-awareness.<h4>Results</h4>The qualitative study indicated that areas of particular need included interpersonal communication skills with significant others, coping with the pressures of parenthood, and mental well-being. Existing helpful practices included social support by family members and elders. Lack of empowerment in young married women and poor engagement of husbands were identified as a barrier to accessing a potential intervention. Our proposed intervention called 'Preparing for Parenthood' consisted of 10 core sessions and 10 follow-up sessions designed to be delivered by lay health workers. It synergistically combined evidence-based socioemotional life-skills (awareness, communication skills, assertiveness, decision-making skills, goal-setting, critical thinking, problem-solving, and coping with stress), with cognitive behavioural strategies (gently challenging existing thoughts and attitudes, behaviour activation and problem solving). The intervention focuses on engagement of the entire family, including husbands.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The intervention can supplement existing sexual and reproductive health programs by providing skills to prospective parents to effectively negotiate stressful life-transitions and life-events. We envisage the intervention would improve mental as well as sexual and reproductive health of young couples and plan to test this in future randomised trials.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Life-skills, adolescents, sexual and reproductive health, mental health, low resource settings
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Population Health
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2021 07:02
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 21:26
DOI: 10.1080/16549716.2021.1982485
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