202700 Integrating communication skills-building into a psychosocial support intervention for HIV-affected families—implications for family violence prevention

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 9:30 AM

Cate Oswald, MPH , Partners In Health, Boston, MA
Mary C. Smith Fawzi , Department of Social Medicine / Program in Infectious Disease and Social Change, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Eddy Eustache, MA , Zanmi Lasante, Cange, Haiti
Ermaze Louis, MSW , Zanmi Lasante, Cange, Haiti
Fiona Scanlan, MA , Partners In Health, Boston, MA
Joia Mukherjee, MD, MPH , Partners In Health, Boston, MA
Background: Families affected by the stressors of chronic poverty and HIV may be at risk of child abuse if not offered adequate counseling and support. The abuse that results can lead to further isolation and despair for both parent and child.

Methods: The TALC (Teens and Adults Learning to Communicate) curriculum, developed for HIV+ mothers and their teenaged children, was adapted for use in central Haiti. As part of a one year intervention, psychosocial support groups for 220 youth ages 10-17 and their HIV-affected parents incorporated TALC to explore such skills as active listening, problem solving, and conflict resolution. Qualitative follow-up interviews and home visits were conducted in June 2008 with 30 parents and 30 youth. Data were analyzed using open coding to identify themes.

Results: In the interviews, parents and youth reported having a markedly improved relationship. Listening and talking to one's child was the preferred form of conflict resolution over violence. Unannounced visits to group participants' homes confirmed a positive change in parent-child dynamics. Social workers noted families eating meals together, sharing stories and jokes, and youth helping with household chores; activities that were observed less frequently prior to the intervention.

Conclusions: A family-centered approach focused on developing communication skills between parents and children can have a positive affect on family dynamics and overall mental and physical well-being of both parent and child. This has implications for integration of psychosocial support services, in the form of support groups, into an already existing comprehensive healthcare model for HIV-affected families.

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe the impact that practicing and promoting positive communication skills can have on the prevention of family violence for parents and youth affected by HIV in resource-poor settings 2) Discuss potential strategies for incorporating psychosocial support services into already-existing comprehensive primary care settings as a means of improving physical and mental health outcomes of families 3) Demonstrate the need for integration of skills development-focused interventions in mental health and social support programs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I helped with the development of the support groups and curriculum
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.