Safe and sound in humanitarian settings: Empowerment counseling intervention delivered in antenatal care for pregnant women and girls affected by intimate partner violence in a refugee camp in Tanzania

This research aims to address the feasibility and acceptability of a brief empowerment counseling intervention among pregnant women and girls receiving antenatal care who have experienced intimate partner violence in humanitarian healthcare settings. This three-year study will take place in two IRC managed health posts in a refugee camp in Kigoma, Tanzania. The objectives of the study are to:

  1. Adapt a brief empowerment counseling intervention to address women’s and girls’ exposure to sexual and/or physical intimate partner violence during pregnancy that improves their mental health, self-efficacy, safety, and coping strategies, for use in the context of antenatal care in a humanitarian setting.
  2. Test the empowerment counseling intervention through a rigorous pilot evaluation, determining whether the intervention is feasible/acceptable in a humanitarian setting and whether it has the potential to improve women’s self-efficacy, reduce mental distress, and increase uptake of longer-term intimate partner violence services.
  3. Test the feasibility of integrating such an intervention into pre-existing antenatal care service delivery in humanitarian settings and make recommendations for future intervention research and development, including effectively linking routine inquiry of intimate partner violence in antenatal care settings with support service use.

Formative research with providers and clients will inform the intervention adaptation. Mixed-methods research will then be undertaken to assess the intervention. Findings from the study will be used to produce recommendations for further research, and for healthcare providers to address gender-based violence effectively in resource-limited antenatal care services in humanitarian settings.

The Airbel Impact Lab at IRC is a team of researchers, strategists and innovators committed to the accelerated design, rigorous evaluation and cost-effective scaling of the most impactful solutions supporting people affected by crisis.