Shaping the future: Our strategy for research and innovation in humanitarian response.

A global organisation that finds solutions to complex humanitarian problems through research and innovation..
Our purpose is clear: we work in partnership with a global community of humanitarian actors, researchers and innovators to improve the quality of humanitarian action and deliver better outcomes for people affected by crises.
We empower the humanitarian community. Find out how we can support you...

Principal Investigators: Dr. Wongsa Laohasiriwong, Khon Kaen University and Dr Judy Bass, Johns Hopkins University.


Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of mortality worldwide. There is an increasing burden of NCDs within humanitarian contexts, but a lack of evidence of effective NCD interventions in humanitarian settings outside the Middle East. Mental disorders and major NCDs often share risk factors such as sedentary life style and alcohol misuse, and can coexist, leading to high care costs care and premature mortality. Mental health conditions significantly impact NCD risk factors and treatment compliance. This study integrates the evidence-based intervention Common Elements Treatment Approach (CETA) , into existing care models for people with hypertension, diabetes and epilepsy. Its objectives are to assess factors influencing treatment compliance, determine improvement in health outcomes, and evaluate potential cost savings.

Dr. Wongsa Laohasiriwong

Principal Investigator

Diabetes and Hypertension are the most common chronic diseases nowadays, requiring both treatment adherence and behavior modification. Our intervention aims to improve mental health status which is necessary for both treatment compliance and behavioral change. We aim to scale up or integrate these mental health interventions into the health-care system for the benefit of the broader community in the future.

Dr. Ye Htut Oo

Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Research Manager

By weaving mental health support into the fabric of NCD care, we are promoting a patient-centered model that recognizes the unique needs of hypertensive and diabetic patients affected by humanitarian crises. This integrated approach will improve not only overall health outcomes but also the quality of care provided.

Dr. Judy Bass

Co-Principal Investigator

Common mental disorders can impact whether people with comorbid diseases, like hypertension and diabetes, seek care and maintain treatment compliance. We are integrating an intervention that can treat common mental and behavioural disorders into a care system for non-communicable diseases to improve treatment outcomes for both sets of conditions.

Expected Outcomes

In the short term this study aims to (1) assess the impact of the intervention on mental health outcomes including wellbeing, mental and physical health status, (2) assess the differences between intervention and control group behavioral risk factors.

In the long term the research is expected to inform the role of mental health care as part of comprehensive NCD care in humanitarian settings.

If the intervention is found effective this will:

  • Contribute to the evidence base for strengthening NCD care service models, programatic standards and policies.
  • Support integration of evidence based mental health interventions into NCD care plans as standard practice within humanitarian settings.
  • Support mental health programmes in prioritizing people living with NCDs as groups who can improve physical and mental health outcomes when appropriate care is provided.

Latest Updates

Baseline data available

Mar 2024

This brief shares some key findings from the baseline data, including that patients with diabetes, financial and behavioral issues, as well as non-Karen patients, have twice the risk of developing moderate or severe mental health symptoms.


Factors associated with uncontrolled glucose levels

14 Sept 2023

This poster from the International Rescue Committee, presented at the University of Copenhagen (School of Global Health) for UCPH Global Health Day, highlights factors that influence uncontrolled fasting blood sugar levels in a temporary shelter on the Thailand-Myanmar border.


The intervention is underway

Aug 2023

Thirteen camp-based CETA providers, including three counsellor supervisors, have engaged with a minimum of nine participants each. To date, 224 participants have enrolled, and the trial is expected to conclude in February 2024.

A client is meeting with an IRC mental health medic and nurse in Mae La Psychosocial Clinic. Credit: Kyaw Zaw Myat, IRC


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