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Improving bereavement outcomes in Zimbabwe: protocol for a feasibility cluster trial of the 9-cell bereavement tool

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Barbara Mutedzi, Lisa Langhaug, Jennifer Hunt, Kennedy Nkhoma, Richard Harding

Original languageEnglish
Article number66
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2019


King's Authors


Background: The high burden of bereavement in sub-Saharan Africa is largely attributable to HIV, cancer, and other non-communicable diseases. However, interventions to improve grief and bereavement are rare. Given high rates of mortality in the context of weak health systems, community lay members are well placed to provide peer bereavement support. The 9-cell bereavement tool was developed in Zimbabwe to improve community members' capacity to support the bereaved. This study aims to determine the feasibility of implementing the 9-cell bereavement tool and recruitment to experimental evaluation.

Methods/design: This feasibility cluster randomized trial with embedded qualitative interviews will be conducted in two comparable neighborhoods in Zimbabwe. Community leaders from each neighborhood will identify 25 potential community lay bereavement supporters, each of whom will recruit 2-3 bereaved community members into the trial. The intervention will be randomly allocated to one community, and the second community will form a wait-list control (n ≥ 75 in each community cluster). Recruitment is estimated to take place over 3 weeks. Measures at T0 (baseline, i.e., week 0), T1 (midline, i.e., week 14 or 3 months post-baseline) and T2 (endline, i.e., week 27 or 3 months post-midline) will address mental health, social support, and levels of grief per individual. Qualitative data will describe lay supporters' views of intervention training and delivery, and participants' experience of bereavement support.

Discussion: This is the first documented trial evaluating a bereavement intervention in sub-Saharan Africa. Recruitment, retention, and measurement data will determine the feasibility of a full trial.

Trial registration: ISRCTN, ISRCTN16484746. Registered 6 February 2018.

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