Optimising engagement in a digital parenting intervention to prevent violence against adolescents in Tanzania: protocol for a cluster randomised factorial trial

Roselinde Janowski, Ohad Green, Yulia Shenderovich, David Stern, Lily Clements, Joyce Wamoyi, Mwita Wambura, Jamie M. Lachman, G. J. Melendez-Torres, Frances Gardner, Lauren Baerecke, Esmee Te Winkel, Anna Booij, Orli Setton, Sibongile Tsoanyane, Sussie Mjwara, Laetitia Christine, Abigail Ornellas, Nicole Chetty, Jonathan KlapwijkIsang Awah, Nyasha Manjengenja, Kudely Sokoine, Sabrina Majikata, Lucie D. Cluver

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Background: Violence against adolescents is a universal reality, with severe individual and societal costs. There is a critical need for scalable and effective violence prevention strategies such as parenting programmes, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where rates of maltreatment are highest. Digital interventions may be a scalable and cost-effective alternative to in-person delivery, yet maximising caregiver engagement is a substantial challenge. This trial employs a cluster randomised factorial experiment and a novel mixed-methods analytic approach to assess the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and feasibility of intervention components designed to optimise engagement in an open-source parenting app, ParentApp for Teens. The app is based on the evidence-based Parenting for Lifelong Health for Teens programme, developed collaboratively by academic institutions in the Global South and North, the WHO, and UNICEF. Methods/design: Sixteen neighbourhoods, i.e., clusters, will be randomised to one of eight experimental conditions which consist of any combination of three components (Support: self-guided/moderated WhatsApp groups; App Design: sequential workshops/non-sequential modules; Digital Literacy Training: on/off). The study will be conducted in low-income communities in Tanzania, targeting socioeconomically vulnerable caregivers of adolescents aged 10 to 17 years (16 clusters, 8 conditions, 640 caregivers, 80 per condition). The primary objective of this trial is to estimate the main effects of the three components on engagement. Secondary objectives are to explore the interactions between components, the effects of the components on caregiver behavioural outcomes, moderators and mediators of programme engagement and impact, and the cost-effectiveness of components. The study will also assess enablers and barriers to engagement qualitatively via interviews with a subset of low, medium, and high engaging participants. We will combine quantitative and qualitative data to develop an optimised ParentApp for Teens delivery package. Discussion: This is the first known cluster randomised factorial trial for the optimisation of engagement in a digital parenting intervention in a low- and middle-income country. Findings will be used to inform the evaluation of the optimised app in a subsequent randomised controlled trial. Trial registration: Pan African Clinical Trial Registry, PACTR202210657553944. Registered 11 October 2022, https://pactr.samrc.ac.za/TrialDisplay.aspx?TrialID=24051 .

Original languageEnglish
Article number1224
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 23 Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Digital intervention
  • Engagement
  • Factorial experiment
  • Low- and middle-income countries
  • Multiphase optimisation strategy (MOST)
  • Optimisation
  • Parenting


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