Suubi-Mhealth Study (2022-2027)

Suubi-Mhealth: A mobile health intervention to address depression and improve ART adherence among Youth living with HIV (YLHIV) in Uganda

Principal Investigators: Proscovia Nabunya, PhD; Patricia Cavazos-Rehg, PhD; James Mugisha, PhD (Makerere University)

Project Team Members: Lindsey Filiatreau, PhD; Fred M. Ssewamala, PhD

Field Coordinators: Olive Imelda Namuyaba; Edward Nsubuga

Implementing Partner: Abel Mwebembezi, PhD (Reach the Youth-Uganda)

Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the overall goal of the Suubi-Mhealth study is to develop a mobile health intervention (Suubi-Mhealth) for use among Ugandan youth with comorbid HIV and depression, taking into account their unique contextual, cultural, and developmental needs. This digital therapy intervention will apply user-centered design methodologies and will be based on the cognitive-behavioral therapy tenets found to improve depression among individuals with HIV. Youth between 14-17 years and their healthcare providers will be recruited from health clinics across the greater Masaka region of Uganda.

The study will be implemented in two phases:

In phase 1, we will develop and refine the Suubi-Mhealth intervention protocol based on formative work to understand the needs of youth. We will also explore the feasibility and acceptability of implementing Suubi-Mhealth on a small scale to inform subsequent refinement for the larger phase of this project.

In phase 2, we will pilot test the preliminary impact of Suubi-Mhealth on reducing depression and improving ART adherence, mental health functioning, quality of life, and lowering HIV stigma. We will also examine barriers and facilitators for integrating Suubi-Mhealth into health care settings.

This study will generate data-driven knowledge to address depression and ART adherence and will ultimately improve HIV-related health outcomes for youth living with HIV.

Mhealth Pilot Project (2021-2022)

Mhealth: Developing and refining a mobile health intervention protocol to address depressive symptoms among youth living with HIV (YLHIV) in Uganda

Principal Investigators:Proscovia Nabunya, PhD; Patricia Cavazos-Rehg, PhD

Project Team Members: Lindsey M. Filiatreau, PhD.; James Mugisha, PhD. (Makerere University)

Field Coordinator: Claire Najjuuko

Funded  by the McDonnell Global Incubator Seed Program at Washington University in St. Louis, this pilot project will conduct formative work to inform the development of a mHealth intervention protocol for depressed youth living with HIV (ages 14-17) in the Masaka region in Uganda.  The study team will conduct focus groups with youth living with HIV as well as health care providers to develop a culturally appropriate, feasible, acceptable, and cost-effective intervention to address depression and improve treatment outcomes among YLHIV in low resourced settings.

Suubi-Mhealth Study Publications

Nabunya P, Cavazos-Rehg P, Mugisha J, Kasson E, Namuyaba OI, Najjuuko C, Nsubuga E, Filiatreau LM, Mwebembezi A, Ssewamala FM. An mHealth Intervention to Address Depression and Improve Antiretroviral Therapy Adherence Among Youths Living With HIV in Uganda: Protocol for a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR Res Protoc. 2024 Mar 8;13:e54635. doi: 10.2196/54635. JMIR Publications