Center for Research on Population and Health (CRPH)
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Women’s Reproductive Health Working Group (WRHG) 
 Urban Health Study
 Women’s Reproductive Health Working Group (WRHG)

Project title
The Relaxation Exercise and Structured Support Trial:
RESST A community-based randomized trial in Hey el Sellom

Research team
PrincipaI Investigator: Huda Zurayk
Co-Principal Investigators: Marwan Khawaja, Sami Ramia, Loulou Kobeissi, Rima Nakkash, Brigitte Khoury, Ziyad Mahfoud, Faysal el Kak
Collaborators: Ricardo Araya, Tim J Peters
Research Assistants: Zeina Ghantous, Maya Abou Saad

Research question
Does a community based psycho-social intervention (combined structured social support groups and progressive relaxing exercises) alter complaints from medically unexplained vaginal discharge among low-income married women, aged 18-49 and residing in Hay el Sellom?

Research Timeline
This research project evaluated the impact of a psycho-social intervention on medically unexplained vaginal discharge (MUVD) among married, low-income women, aged 18-49, with low to moderate levels of anxiety and/or depression, and residing in Hey el Sellom (a southern disadvantaged suburb of Beirut, Lebanon). The intervention consisted of 12 sessions of structured social support group discussions and trainer-supervised relaxation exercises (carried over twice per week over six weeks). A community-based participatory research approach was utilized. 199 women were found to be eligible during six weeks of an open recruitment campaign (102 randomized into the intervention group and 97 into the treat-later group). The primary outcome was MUVD, following ruling out of reproductive tract infections. Anxiety and/or depression served as the secondary outcomes for this trial. Intent to treat analysis was used. RESST showed some positive results in alleviating anxiety. One significant observation made from this trial relates to the fact that If provided with adequate empowerment tools, women at the grass root level can be extremely influential in promoting change. The essence of this trial lies in its hopes for sustainability.

Currently, the Local Women Committee of this trial are heavily involved in a self-entrepreneur initiative to set up an NGO that deals with women related issues (health and social). RESST recommends testing the intervention over larger periods, in order to assertively examine the link between vaginal discharge and common mental illness.

PDF Summary

Funding source
Wellcome Trust

Loulou Kobeissi
Women in Hay Sellom doing relaxation exercises 
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