Psychodrama as transformative intervention in the SRH of young men in urban slums in Dhaka; proof of a novel approach

A consortium of theater makers, public health workers, slum activists, social media experts and academics from Bangladesh and the Netherlands engage in Dhaka slums to experiment with the use of theatrical means to stimulate debate on sexual ideas and practices.

Consortium

Coordinator: Professor Malabika Sarker, Director Research, James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Consortium Partners

  • Dr Godelieve van Heteren, Rotterdam Global Health Initiative/Erasmus University (including ISS Gender and SRHR team and the Rotterdam Alliance for Serious Games and Creative Learning RAS), The Netherlands
  • Jeanine de Ridder, Project Manager, KIKID Foundation, The Netherlands, represented by Sanne Louw
  • Dr Helal Uddin Ahmed, Assistant Professor, National Institute of Mental Health, Bangladesh
  • Shale Ahmed, Executive Director, Bandhu Social Welfare Society, Bangladesh

Summary of results (2019)

Psychodrama is a group intervention, which can be used to deal with complex roles and relationship conflicts. This project explored the utility of this intervention in influencing the risky sexual practices of young men (18-29 years) living in the Bhashantek slum of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The project involved a number of steps. First, researchers identified the stereotypical masculinity and inequitable gender norms that are associated with risky sexual behavior. After that, they conducted a social network analysis of 824 young men as a baseline. Critical feedback from the multidisciplinary consortium partners enabled researchers to experiment with elements of youth-led methodologies to deliver psychodrama in the context of masculine sexuality by actively engaging youths from the slum. Subsequently, two rounds of six-hour per week psychodrama sessions for were undertaken with 40 young men during four weeks. Pre and post intervention surveys triangulated with qualitative interviews of female household members suggested that delivering SRHR education through psychodrama has the potential for long-lasting change in terms of supporting more gender equitable norms and an increase in the knowledge of safe sex practice.

Furthermore, through the intervention, a community-based cadre of psychosocial trainers was developed, who can deliver psychodrama training in the local context in the future. In addition, the team developed an Android-based application for comprehensive SRHR education along with a holistic psychoeducation counseling module focusing on general self-care and mental healthcare practices. The team also developed a proposal for future gamification around the intervention. To conclude, SRHR education with psychodrama proved effective in changing the stereotypical gender inequitable norms that may lead to the risky sexual behavior of young men living in an urban slum of Dhaka city.

Summary of progress

Knowledge on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) of slum dwellers in Bangladesh is very low. They have high probabilities to be confronted with risky sexual behavior. In addition, attention garnered towards SRHR in men is still substantially limited. The main purpose of the project is to develop a proof of concept regarding the usage of enhanced and locally tailored psychodrama (guided dramatic sessions) methods to address the deeply rooted norms, beliefs and needs that underpin sexual behavior. The intervention design will engage urban young men (aged 18-29 years) to explore existing and alternative attitudes towards their own and their peers’ sexual health. Moreover, this will serve to investigate individual problems and clarify issues, facilitate insights, personal growth, and integration on cognitive, affective, and behavioural levels. The study will subsequently also develop psycho-education counselling modules and formulate innovative strategies to disseminate education on sexuality, gender and SRHR.

PROJECT SHOWCASE

Summary

Engaging young male slum dwellers in Bangladesh in SRH education is a considerable challenge. Slum-dwellers tend to suffer from a poorer mental and physical health status than the rest of the population and their knowledge of SRHR issues is very low. They have high probabilities to be confronted with early sex, early marriage, drugs and violence. Interventions so far mostly targeted women; the attention garnered towards men is still substantially limited.

The key component in our proposal is to develop a proof of concept of the usage of enhanced and locally tailored psychodrama methods to address the deeply rooted norms, beliefs and needs that underpin sexual behaviour.
The intervention design will engage young men to explore existing and alternative attitudes towards their own and their peers? sexual health and relationships and will create guided dramatic acting that will serve to investigate individual problems and clarify issues, facilitate insights, personal growth, and integration on cognitive, affective, and behavioural levels.
Both the design of the intervention and the pilot testing will involve a process of co-construction, under the guidance of internationally seasoned methodological innovators, to maximise the chances of the intervention. The study will subsequently also develop psycho-education counselling modules and will serve to explore enabling factors, local forms of socialisation and education of sexuality of urban male to formulate innovative strategies to disseminate education on sexuality, gender and SRHR.

Output

Scientific article

Professional publication

  • Mr. Rizwan(2018): Do you want to know yourself better and improve your relationship? pp. 15 - 18

Publication meant for a broad audience

Details

Project number

W 08.560.007

Main applicant

Dr. G.M. van Heteren

Affiliated with

NWO-SRHR

Team members

Mr. A Aftab, M.F. Bas, Dr. K Cheney, Mr. M. Didar Hossain, P. Gayen, Dr. W. Harcourt, A. Kalam Azad, Dr. R.L. Laila, R. Mahfusa, S. Paul, Dr. A. Rabbani, F. Razmin, Mr. A. Rizwan, Prof. M. Sarker, Dr. A. Shahabuddin, D. Verweij, Mr. A.V. Vugt, M. Willemsen

Duration

07/03/2016 to 28/02/2019