Culturally and developmentally adapting group interpersonal therapy for adolescents with depression in rural Nepal

Rose-Clarke, Kelly; Pradhan, Indira; Shrestha, Pragya; B.K., Prakash; Magar, Jananee; Luitel, Nagendra P.; Devakumar, Delan; Rafaeli, Alexandra K.; Clougherty, Kathleen; Kohrt, Brandon A.; Jordans, Mark J. D.; Verdeli, Helen

Evidence-based interventions are needed to reduce depression among adolescents in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). One approach could be cultural adaptation of psychological therapies developed in high-income countries. We aimed to adapt the World Health Organization’s Group Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) Manual for adolescents with depression in rural Nepal.

We used a participatory, multi-stage adaptation process involving: translation and clinical review of the WHO Manual; desk reviews of adaptations of IPT in LMICs, and literature on child and adolescent mental health interventions and interpersonal problems in Nepal; a qualitative study to understand experiences of adolescent depression and preferences for a community-based psychological intervention including 25 interviews with adolescent boys and girls aged 13–18 with depression, four focus group discussions with adolescents, four with parents/caregivers and two with teachers, six interviews with community health workers and one with a representative from a local non-governmental organisation (total of 126 participants); training of IPT trainers and facilitators and practice IPT groups; and consultation with a youth mental health advisory board. We used the Ecological Validity Framework to guide the adaptation process.

We made adaptations to optimise treatment delivery and emphasise developmental and cultural aspects of depression. Key adaptations were: integrating therapy into secondary schools for delivery by school nurses and lay community members; adding components to promote parental engagement including a pre-group session with the adolescent and parent to mobilise parental support; using locally acceptable terms for mental illness such as udas-chinta (sadness and worry) and man ko samasya (heart-mind problem); framing the intervention as a training programme to de-stigmatise treatment; and including activities to strengthen relationships between group members. We did not adapt the therapeutic goals of IPT and conserved IPT-specific strategies and techniques, making edits only to the way these were described in the Manual.

Group IPT can be adapted for adolescents in Nepal and delivered through the education system. A randomised controlled trial is needed to assess the impact and costs of the intervention in this setting. Future research in LMICs to adapt IPT for adolescents could use this adapted intervention as a starting point.


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August 10, 2022


Depression, Adolescent, Interpersonal therapy, Nepal, Cultural adaptation