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Promoting Adolescent Girls’ Well-Being in Pakistan: a Mixed-Methods Study of Change Over Time, Feasibility, and Acceptability, of the COMPASS Program


Promoting resilience among displaced adolescent girls in northern Pakistan may buffer against developmental risks such as violence exposure and associated longer-term consequences for physical and mental well-being. However, girls’ access to such programming may be limited by social norms restricting movement. A mixed-method evaluation examined change over time, feasibility, and acceptability of the COMPASS program in three districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province through a single-group within-participant pretest-posttest of adolescent girls aged 12–19 enrolled in the intervention (n = 78), and qualitative in-depth interviews with girls following posttest completion (n = 15). Primary outcomes included improvements in movement, safety, and comfort discussing life skills topics with caregivers, operationalized quantitatively as number of places visited in the previous month, number of spaces that girls felt safe visiting, and comfort discussing puberty, education, working outside the home, and marriage, respectively. Secondary outcomes included psychosocial well-being, gendered rites of passage, social support networks, perceptions of support for survivors of violence, and knowledge of services. Quantitative pretest-posttest findings included significant improvements in movement, psychosocial well-being, and some improvements in social support, knowledge of services, and gendered rites of passage; findings on safety and comfort discussing life skills topics were not significant. Qualitative findings illuminated themes related to definitions of safety and freedom of movement, perceptions and acceptability of program content, perceptions of social support, and perceptions of blame and support and knowledge of services in response to violence. Taken together, findings illustrate positive impacts of life skills programming, and the need for societal changes on gender norms to improve girls’ safety in public spaces and access to resources.

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The authors acknowledge financial support of the UK Department for International Development (DFID grant #40080602). The funding body had no role in the following: design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

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Correspondence to Lindsay Stark.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Asghar, K., Mayevskaya, Y., Sommer, M. et al. Promoting Adolescent Girls’ Well-Being in Pakistan: a Mixed-Methods Study of Change Over Time, Feasibility, and Acceptability, of the COMPASS Program. Prev Sci 19, 1030–1042 (2018).

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  • Pakistan
  • Internal displacement
  • Adolescent girls
  • Violence
  • Restricted movement