Feasibility and acceptability of brief individual interpersonal psychotherapy among university students with mental distress in Ethiopia

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BACKGROUND: The prevalence of mental distress among university students in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is increasing; however, the majority do not receive evidence-based psychological intervention. This calls for the provision of culturally adapted psychological therapy in higher education institutions in LMICs. The aim of this pilot study is to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of Interpersonal Psychotherapy adapted for Ethiopia (IPT-E) among Wolaita Sodo University students and to assess the preliminary outcomes of IPT-E in reducing symptoms of mental distress and in improving functioning. METHODS: We used a quasi-experimental single-group pre-post-test study design. As indicators of feasibility of IPT-E, we used consent, treatment completion and attrition. We used Client Satisfaction Questionnaire and semi-structured interview to measure the acceptability of the intervention, self-reporting IPT-E checklist to assess treatment adherence and World Health Organization Disability Assessment and Self-Reporting Questionnaire-20 tools to assess functional impairment and mental distress, respectively. We used percentage, frequency, mean and standard deviation to summarize the demographic variables, feasibility and acceptability of IPT-E. We analyzed changes from pre- to post-tests of mental distress and functioning results using paired t-test and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests. Independent sample t-test and one way-ANOVA used to assess the difference in mean score of in demographic variables at baseline and eight weeks. The qualitative data was analyzed with the support of open code 4.02. RESULTS: IPT-E was feasible (consent rate = 100%; completion rate = 92.31%; attrition rate = 7.69%; mean score of the sessions = 8 and mode of the session = 8). The total mean score of treatment satisfaction was 27.83 (SD = 4.47). After the delivery of IPT-E, symptoms of mental distress were decreased, functioning was improved and therapist adherence to the treatment model was 100% (i.e. treatment delivered according to the IPT-E guideline). CONCLUSION: IPT-E was feasible and acceptable to treat university students with mental distress in low-income country setting. The preliminary results also suggest promising viability of IPT-E in higher education institutions of low-income country setting for students with symptoms of anxiety and depression.




Negash, A., Khan, M. A., Medhin, G., Wondimagegn, D., Pain, C., & Araya, M. (2021). Feasibility and acceptability of brief individual interpersonal psychotherapy among university students with mental distress in Ethiopia. BMC Psychology, 9(1), 64. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-021-00570-1

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