Thumbnail Image

Pilot implementation of Bukhali: A preconception health trial in South Africa

Draper, C.E.
Prioreschi, A.
Ware, L.J.
Lye, S.
Norris, S.A.
Objectives: This article describes the learnings from the pilot phase of the Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative, a preconception health trial for 18- to 25-year-old women in Soweto, South Africa. Methods: The study compares two arms focussed on either physical and mental health (intervention; delivered by community health workers - 'Health Helpers') or standard of care plus (control; standard access to healthcare plus additional telephonic input on 'life skills'; delivered by call centre assistants). These are collectively referred to as Bukhali. Data on the pilot implementation of the Bukhali trial (n = 1655) were collected from (1) weekly team meetings, (2) two focus groups (one with the intervention team Health Helpers, n = 7; one with intervention participants, n = 8) and one paired interview with control call centre assistants (n = 2), (3) notes from eight debrief sessions with Health Helpers and (4) quantitative trial monitoring data. Qualitative data were thematically analysed. Results: The findings clustered within three themes: (1) challenges for young women in Soweto, (2) priorities for young women in Soweto and (3) implementation challenges and perceptions of the intervention. Challenges were mostly related to tough socioeconomic circumstances and less prioritisation of living a healthier life. The priorities of employment and educational opportunities reflected the socioeconomic challenges, where health was not recognised as priority. The main challenge to participation and compliance with the trial was that young women in Soweto generally wanted a tangible and preferably financial and immediate benefit. Community peer sessions, despite being recommended by young women as part of the intervention development, were not successful. Many women also moved between multiple households within Soweto, which flagged concerns for a cluster trial and risk of contamination. Conclusion: Preconception health trials should consider socioeconomic challenges present in urban poor contexts. Learnings from the pilot phase significantly affected the design and implementation of the main Bukhali trial.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Low- and middle-income country , women’s health , Implementation science , Intervention , Preconception care , Preconception health
Draper CE, Prioreschi A, Ware LJ, Lye S, Norris SA. Pilot implementation of Bukhali: A preconception health trial in South Africa. SAGE Open Med.
Embedded videos