Stepping Stones and Creating Futures intervention: Shortened interrupted time series evaluation of a behavioural and structural health promotion and violence prevention intervention for young people in informal settlements in Durban, South Africa
Background: Gender-based violence and HIV are highly prevalent in the harsh environment of informal settlements and reducing violence here is very challenging. The group intervention Stepping Stones has been shown to reduce men’s perpetration of violence in more rural areas, but violence experienced by women in the study was not affected. Economic empowerment interventions with gender training can protect older women from violence, but microloan interventions have proved challenging with young women. We investigated whether combining a broad economic empowerment intervention and Stepping Stones could impact on violence among young men and women. The intervention, Creating Futures, was developed as a new generation of economic empowerment intervention, which enabled livelihood strengthening though helping participants find work or set up a business, and did not give cash or make loans.
Methods: We piloted Stepping Stones with Creating Futures in two informal settlements of Durban with 232 out of school youth, mostly aged 18–30 and evaluated with a shortened interrupted time series of two baseline surveys and at 28 and 58 weeks post-baseline. 94/110 men and 111/122 women completed the last assessment, 85.5% and 90.2% respectively of those enrolled. To determine trend, we built random effects regression models with each individual as the cluster for each variable, and measured the slope of the line across the time points.
Results: Men’s mean earnings in the past month increased by 247% from R411 (~$40) to R1015 (~$102, and women’s by 278% R 174 (~$17) to R 484 (about $48) (trend test, p < 0.0001). There was a significant reduction in women’s experience of the combined measure of physical and/or sexual IPV in the prior three months from 30.3% to 18.9% (p = 0.037). This was not seen for men. However both men and women scored significantly better on gender attitudes and men significantly reduced their controlling practices in their relationship. The prevalence of moderate or severe depression symptomatology among men and suicidal thoughts decreased significantly (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.01).
Conclusions: These findings are very positive for an exploratory study and indicate that the Creating Futures/ Stepping Stones intervention has potential for impact in these difficult areas with young men and women. Further evaluation is needed.