Substance use amongst refugees is a major global health concern. This feasibility study took place with South Sudanese men in Northern Uganda. It combined and adapted two WHO interventions: Self-Help Plus (SH+) for reducing psychological distress and the Alcohol, Smoking, Substance Involvement Screening Test Brief Intervention (ASSIST-BI) for reducing risk associated with the use of psychoactive substances, finding that delivery of the combined interventions was feasible and acceptable, and that a trial would be feasible. High rates of psychoactive substance misuse, particularly alcohol misuse, were found among this sample of men, highlighting the need for culturally appropriate and acceptable interventions to address substance misuse.
The outcomes from this trial suggest that the adapted intervention (SH+ combined with ASSIST-BI) was relevant and acceptable to this population, which is promising. The next step is to determine if the intervention is effective in reducing psychological distress and alcohol misuse by conducting a fully powered cluster randomized controlled trial. Further rigorous evaluations, building on lessons learned in this feasibility trial, are now needed.
This snapshot contains key messages, findings, implications for humanitarian policymakers and practitioners and recommendations for further research.
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