ParentText Optimisation and Evaluation in South Africa Updates

Pragmatic randomised factorial trial to optimise ParentText effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and engagement when embedded within a child welfare system and education system. Parents and caregivers across a range of developmental stages will be enrolled.


Reported by Paula Zinser


The ParentText team is currently optimising the programme (ParentText 2.0) for deployment in South Africa, Mpumalanga in the summer. The optimisation of the content and delivery of the programme is almost finalised, and can begin translations shortly. Concurrently, they are also finalising the protocol and the ethics forms in preparation for the study the optimisation trial in Mpumalanga. They are having their first meeting with our implementation partners mothers2mothers and CWBSA where all the final details for the trial will be discussed.

After months of hard work, filled with meetings with their partners in South Africa, mothers2mothers and Clowns Without Borders South Africa, the ParentText team have finished their research protocol and submitted ethics applications to the Universities of Oxford and Cape Town.  They are happy that plans for the Optimisation Study have been finalised, and can begin to prepare for the deployment, which is scheduled for mid-July. 

In regards to their intervention, ParentText 2.0 is almost ready in English, and they are just finalising videos. They are jumping on the AI train and using the platform Synthesia to create videos. These videos have been well-received and hopefully will make ParentText more scalable in South Africa. Translations have begun, and they hope to finish the translations by the end of June and prepare them for deployment. 

Lastly, the ParentText team is expanding, and are currently recruiting new team members!

The ParentText team was well advanced in its preparation for the implementation of the study optimisation trial in August 2023. Before the optimisation work, the team had prepared in-person tools and Open Data Kit surveys in several languages. They also organised meetings with local stakeholders, including community health care workers, to support the optimisation work and ultimately inform the development of the ParentText randomised controlled trial (RCT) protocol. The team had received ethics approval from the University of Cape Town and had also been developing a revised data management plan.

During that period, the team finalised ParentText 2.0 teen content. Production for English and Siswati videos and translations in Zulu and Siswati had also been ongoing, with additional support provided by their digital development partner IDEMS to mitigate changes to the proposed completion schedule. In terms of capacity building, the team had recently presented at an internal GPI Research in Progress meeting. Other activities included a "writing for The Conversation'' workshop and webinar training led by the University of Cape Town communications team. The team had also been reviewing future funding opportunities to support the delivery of the planned RCT in Acornhoek, South Africa, with community healthcare workers, and the onboarding of newly recruited team members had been underway.

Implementation of the factorial trial is progressing well, with baseline surveys now completed for approximately 75% of the target sample of participants. Post-intervention data collection has also started and is being led by implementation partner mothers2mothers (m2m). Researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Cape Town have worked closely with m2m to collate and clean the data collected and to troubleshoot issues as they arise.

Other recent developments include a ParentText safety protocol, which will become a template for use by other GPI studies and has also informed a series of travel safety and wellbeing resources for the GPI. In addition, the ParentText randomised controlled trial protocol has been submitted to JMIR Research Protocols and a dashboard for monitoring and evaluation of ParentText 2.0 is now available. Finally, at the end of September, the team said goodbye to Research Manager Paula Zinser, who has left the GPI to begin a new role and will shortly be welcoming a Research Officer.


Reporting by Paula Zinser

The ParentText team is very busy at the moment! The majority of the team is working on analysing the data from the formative evaluation, with recordings being transcribed and transcriptions coded and analysed. We hope to have the results finalised in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, preparations for the RCT in Mpumalanga are on the way. We are very excited that the timeline and plans for the RCT will be finalised in February, where we will be meeting for the first time in person as a team, as well as to engage with our implementation partners. The team is also working on finalising the second version of ParentText 2.0, which will be utilised for the RCT.

Reporting by Paula Zinser

October 2022

October has been a very busy and exciting month for the ParentText South Africa team. We have been preparing for the deployment of ParentText and we are finally soft launching ParentText in November with a webinar hosted by UNICEF.  

We have grown  from a team of three to seven and have managed to hire our project coordinator who will commence duties soon.   

Our team is currently working on the formative evaluation phase of our study. The formative evaluation is exploring how we could embed ParentText into existing delivery systems in South Africa, as well as the facilitators and barriers to implementation and digital interventions. After months of stakeholder engagement and analysis we began collecting qualitative data. Throughout the month the team conducted online stakeholder meetings using the Nominal Group Technique (NGT) with Faith leaders based in KwaZulu Natal. We also conducted Focus Group Discussions, and In-depth Interviews with stakeholders both online and in-person in Mpumalanga. We are very excited that the stakeholders we engaged with represent the various sectors of the community, including faith-based organisations, the health and education sector, research, local and international NGOs, and government bodies. In total, we have interviewed over 130 participants. Data collection will conclude in November, and we are beginning analysis of the qualitative data in the coming week. 

November 2022

ParentText SA Launch

ParentText South Africa Launch

ParentText has launched in South Africa! 

The online webinar launch was hosted by UNICEF South Africa on Monday, 21 November 2022. In her opening, UNICEF South Africa Child Protection Officer Sinah Moruane, noted that, "ParentText comes at the right time and is an innovative solution that will really ensure that our parents are being supported in doing their parenting responsibilities”. The ParentText team was very happy with the launch, and we want to thank UNICEF SA and Clowns Without Borders South Africa, for making the launch a success!

The piloting of ParentText, will allow us to collect data to help prepare us for the RCT in 2023. Our formative evaluation is currently in its final stages, with the team conducting data cleaning and analysis. We are aiming to finalise the formative evaluation by early 2023.