ParentText Updates

ParentText is a chatbot parenting intervention delivered through popular communication channels users trust: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and SMS. The chatbot delivers evidence-based parenting support from Parenting for Lifelong Health, UNICEF, Helping Adolescents Thrive, and other parenting interventions that aim to reduce violence against children and improve child wellbeing. ParentText can easily be adapted to national parenting guidelines for local cultures and contexts. ParentText can be delivered as a standalone intervention or in a hybrid format, augmented within the PLH solutions ecosystem including WhatsApp support groups or in-person sessions.


Following implementation of the factorial trial in Mpumalanga, South Africa, qualitative data collection is ongoing. The research team is transcribing and translating recordings of completed focus group discussions with caregivers and programme facilitators and in depth interviews with managers from study implementation partner mothers2mothers. In addition, the data management team has finalised cleaning of quantitative pre-test data and cleaning of quantitative post-test data has begun in preparation to merge the dataset. The team has also received an award from the GPI Emerging Trends Fund to conduct a large-scale randomised controlled trial with parents and caregivers of children aged 2 to 17. The study will evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a ParentText 5-day user experience intervention. Preliminary results are expected in September and final results by the end of 2024.

With regards to dissemination activities, members of the ParentText team have submitted abstracts for the following conferences in 2024:

  • International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) Conference (18 - 21 August, Uppsala). 

  • The International Society for Research on Internet Interventions (ISRII) Convention (2 - 5 June, Limerick). 

  • The Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) Forum (21 - 25 October, Cape Town).


Implementation of the factorial trial in Mpumalanga, South Africa continues to progress well. Approximately 85% and 92% of caregivers in the programme have completed baseline and post-test surveys, respectively. Focus group discussions were held with participants in two of the districts recruited from and with the facilitators who delivered the intervention. The data management team is actively cleaning and preparing quantitative data for cost-effectiveness and effectiveness evaluations. Data cleaning is expected to be completed in early 2024 with preliminary findings anticipated in April/May 2024.

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


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