A mixed-method study evaluating the effectiveness of a community-based PSS intervention for communities affected by torture in Colombia


Photo Credit: Ana Karina Delgado

Lead Implementation Partner: Heartland Alliance International (HAI)
Lead Research Partner: La Universidad de Los Andes
Study Setting: Quibdo, Colombia

Study Overview:

Heartland Alliance International (HAI) and La Universidad de Los Andes are investigating the effectiveness of HAI’s community-based psychosocial support (PSS) services program Alianza Con Organizaciones Por lo Emocional2 (ACOPLE) in the Pacific Coast region of Colombia. ACOPLE leverages identified community leaders, called community psychosocial agents (CPAs), who are trained and supervised by psychologists to provide non-specialized community PSS, thereby strengthening social cohesion, coping, and resilience in their own communities. Since 2010, ACOPLE has provided these mental health and PSS services to survivors of torture and trauma, primarily Afro-Colombian populations affected by violence and conflict. In response to feedback from CPAs, HAI recognized the need to adapt the ACOPLE intervention to better fit the evolving needs of participants and include a greater focus on peer support and community problem-solving. The first phase of this work will test feasibility and fidelity of the adapted intervention. After a period of adaptation based on the findings from Phase 1, the effectiveness of the finalized adapted model will be measured using a randomized controlled trial (RCT) methodology. This model could have global relevance in other countries struggling to build the capacities of communities to cope with the mental health needs stemming from ongoing and past conflict as well as systemic crime and violence.