Improving family functioning and reducing violence in the home in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo : a pilot cluster-randomised controlled trial of Safe at Home

Objective To test the effectiveness of the Safe at Home programme which was developed to improve family well-being and prevent multiple forms of violence in the home.


Design Waitlisted pilot cluster randomised controlled trial.


Setting North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo.


Participants 202 heterosexual couples.


Intervention The Safe at Home programme.


Primary and secondary outcome measures The primary outcome was family functioning, with secondary outcomes of past-3 month co-occurring violence, intimate partner violence (IPV) and harsh discipline. Pathway mechanisms assessed included attitudes related to acceptance of harsh discipline, gender equitable attitudes, positive parenting skills and power sharing within the couple.


Results No significant improvements in family functioning were documented for women (β=1.49; 95% CI: −2.75 to 5.74; p=0.49) and men (β=1.09; 95% CI: −3.13 to 4.74; p=0.69). However, women in Safe at Home reported a OR=0.15 (p=0.000), OR=0.23 (p=0.001) and OR=0.29 (p=0.013) change in co-occurring IPV and harsh discipline; physical/sexual/emotional IPV by their partner and use of physical and/or emotional harsh discipline against their child, respectively, as compared with women in the waitlisted group. Men participating in Safe at Home reported a OR=0.23 (p=0.005) change in perpetration of co-occurring violence, OR=0.26 (p=0.003) change in any form of IPV perpetration and OR=0.56 (p=0.19) change in use of harsh discipline against their child as compared with the waitlist arm. Positive changes were also noted in pathway variables around attitudes, skills and behaviours within couples.


Conclusion This pilot trial demonstrated the Safe at Home programme to be highly effective in preventing multiple forms of violence in the home and improving equitable attitudes and skills in couples. Future research should assess longitudinal impact and implementation at scale.


Trial registration number NCT04163549.

Kathryn L Falb, Khudejha Asghar, Alexandra Blackwell, Simon Baseme, Martin Nyanguba, Danielle Roth, Jean de Dieu Hategekimana | 2023
In: BMJ Open ; ISSN: 2044-6055 | 13 | e065759
Central Africans, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Effectiveness, Family Members, Family Violence, Interventions, Partner Abuse, Partners, Randomized Clinical Trial, Training programs, Violence