Community based sociotherapy for depressive symptomatology of Congolese refugees in Rwanda and Uganda (CoSTAR): a protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial

Daniel M Kagabo, Paul Bangirana, Girvan Burnside, Anna Chiumento, Rui Duarte, Darius Gishoma, Michelle Girvan, Angela Jansen, Stefan Jansen, Rosco Kasujja, Rachel Lubunga, Sarah Nevitt, Lucie Nzaramba, Emmanuel Sarabwe, Clare Jackson, Atif Rahman, Annemiek Richters, Jude Robinson, Theoneste Rutayisire, Peter VentevogelRoss G White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has led to large numbers of refugees fleeing to Uganda and Rwanda. Refugees experience elevated levels of adverse events and daily stressors, which are associated with common mental health difficulties such as depression. The current cluster randomised controlled trial aims to investigate whether an adapted form of Community-based Sociotherapy (aCBS) is effective and cost-effective in reducing depressive symptomatology experienced by Congolese refugees in Uganda and Rwanda.Methods: A two-arm, single-blind cluster randomised controlled trial (cRCT) will be conducted in Kyangwali settlement, Uganda and Gihembe camp, Rwanda. Sixty-four clusters will be recruited and randomly assigned to either aCBS or Enhanced Care As Usual (ECAU). aCBS, a 15-session group-based intervention, will be facilitated by two people drawn from the refugee communities. The primary outcome measure will be self-reported levels of depressive symptomatology (PHQ-9) at 18-weeks post-randomisation. Secondary outcomes will include levels of mental health difficulties, subjective wellbeing, post-displacement stress, perceived social support, social capital, quality of life, and PTSD symptoms at 18-week and 32-week post-randomisation. Cost effectiveness of aCBS will be measured in terms of health care costs (cost per Disability Adjusted Life Year, DALY) compared to ECAU. A process evaluation will be undertaken to investigate the implementation of aCBS.Conclusion: This cRCT will be the first investigating aCBS for mental health difficulties experienced by refugees and will contribute to knowledge about the use of psychosocial interventions for refugees at a time when levels of forced migration are at a record high.Trial registration: identifier: ISRCTN20474555.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2151281
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2023


  • Humans
  • Refugees/psychology
  • Quality of Life
  • Rwanda
  • Uganda
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic

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