Men as protagonists in improving maternal and child health

Intervention research in marginalized Indigenous communities in Guatemala


Men as protagonists in improving maternal and child health: Intervention research in marginalized indigenous communities in Guatemala

Guatemala has some of the worst maternal and child health (MCH) statistics worldwide, and Indigenous communities suffer a disproportionate burden of illness. Paternal distress and substance use, inequitable gender attitudes, and domestic violence are major risk factors for maternal and child morbidity and mortality and poor child growth and development. Despite research highlighting the importance of fathers in promoting MCH, few studies have evaluated interventions targeting perinatal paternal involvement. No intervention studies have addressed paternal engagement specifically in indigenous contexts. Using a participatory approach, our project was among the first in Latin America to develop a holistic, collective, strengths-based intervention for addressing the well being and positive engagement of indigenous fathers. This pilot research, to pave the way for a future larger-scale community-led cluster randomized controlled trial, aimed to create an evidence- based, feasible and locally acceptable community mobilization protocol to improve MCH through changes in gender norms, reductions in domestic violence and promotion of fathers’ wellbeing and positive engagement in MCH. Our innovative approach recognized that community engagement in designing solutions is a key component of sustainable transformation.

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Partner institutions:

  • Instituto de Salud Incluyente in Guatemala
  • Distrito de Salud de Cuilco
  • Distrito de Salud de Santiago Atitlán
  • McGill Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry

Country: Guatemala

Dates: 2018-2019

Funding: Steinberg fund for interdisciplinary global health research (McGill)

Gates Seed Grant of 100,000 USD


Pizarro KW, LeBel N, Petzey Quieju D, Yarcinio López B, Paiz Bekker L, Groleau D, Cockcroft A, Andersson N, Chomat AM. What happens when communities mobilize to promote indigenous wellbeing in Guatemala? Exploring impacts and mechanisms of change]. Global Health Night, 2 November 2020, McGill University, online. (Poster)

Pizarro KW, Chomat AM, Cockcroft A, Petzey Quieju D, Yarcinio López B, Paiz Bekker L, Andersson N, Groleau D. Participatory evaluation of a co-designed group psychosocial intervention to promote indigenous wellbeing in Guatemala. Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture 2020 annual meeting, online. 9 October 2020 (Poster)

Pizarro KW, Chomat AM, Paiz Bekker L, Petzey Quieju D, Yarcinio López B, Andersson N, Cockcroft A. Engaging indigenous communities in addressing men’s mental wellbeing in Guatemala: Application of Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping. Hughes Fellowship Lecture, Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture. April 25, 2019(Oral presentation)

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