Responsible Engaged and Loving (REAL) Fathers Intervention Evaluation

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University of California San Diego




Conflict Resolution
Communication, Partner
Child Development
Violence, Sexual
Contraception Behavior
Violence, Physical
Parent-Child Relations
Violence, Domestic
Child Abuse
Violence, Gender-Based


Behavioral: Responsible Engaged and Loving (REAL) Fathers Initiative

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


The goal of this stepped-wedge cluster randomized control trial is to assess whether a Ugandan community-based intervention for young fathers (ages 18-25 years) of children ages 0-3 years impacts fathers' knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding positive parenting practices, father-child interaction, harsh physical punishment of children, and intimate partner violence.

Full description

BACKGROUND. The prevalence of violence against women and children in Uganda takes a substantial toll on the overall health and welfare of families. Globally three in four children aged 2 to 4 years are exposed to harsh physical punishment. Child maltreatment not only inflicts immediate harm but also has long-lasting consequences on a child's physical and mental health, educational attainment, and overall development. One in four children under the age of five live with a mother who is a victim of intimate partner violence. Based on data from recent population surveys, 60% of Ugandan women reported having experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) at some point, while 45% reported experiencing IPV within the past year. These statistics underscore the urgent need for effective measures to address and mitigate the impact of such violence on the well-being of individuals and families in Uganda. INTERVENTION. The Responsible, Engaged and Loving (REAL) Fathers Initiative is an evidence-based father-centered mentoring program designed to address social and gender norms that promote use of violence in child discipline and with intimate partners through promotion of positive parenting and partnership skills building. The REAL Fathers Initiative uses a 7-month mentoring program and a community poster campaign to model alternative strategies for nonviolent discipline and conflict resolution to improve fathers' parenting and communication skills and confidence in adapting nonviolent strategies. The project works with young fathers (ages 18-25) who have toddler-aged children (0-3 years) who are learning new roles as parents and husbands. This stage in a man's life is an ideal time to promote nonviolence in parenting and partner relationships as there is still ambiguity in the normative expectations about these roles and behaviors. STUDY DESCRIPTION. This study will examine the impacts of a multilevel community-based intervention for young fathers and their families in Uganda on positive parenting, childhood development, and violence reduction. We will use a stepped-wedge cluster-randomized controlled trial design within 72 sub-counties randomly sampled from 24 districts in six regions of Uganda. Sub-counties are randomly allocated to treatment or control conditions at three successive time points from November 2023 to December 2025. Study participants are couple dyads (young fathers and their wives) ages 16-25 years with children ≤3 years (n=3,744 dyads). Quantitative longitudinal data will be collected via trained enumerators in six local languages on KoboCollect software. Intervention effects on primary and secondary outcomes will be assessed using difference-in-differences statistical approaches in mixed-effects models that account for the clustered stepped-wedge design.


4,728 estimated patients




16 to 25 years old


Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Inclusion Criteria for Young Fathers:

  • Living in one of the six selected regions and districts across each region
  • Being male aged between aged 16-25 years
  • Being biological father to a child(ren) who is younger than 3 years old
  • Living in union and in the same household with the mother or guardian of the child(ren)

Inclusion Criteria for Spouses:

Living in union and in the same household as the young father

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Sequential Assignment


Single Blind

4,728 participants in 2 patient groups

No Intervention group
Standard of care. Participants will have access to existing health centers and early childhood development centers.
Experimental group
Participants will engage in the Responsible, Engaged and Loving (REAL) Fathers Intervention-an evidence-based community mentoring education program for young fathers and their spouses. Over 7 months, fathers receive monthly home visits from a community-identified male mentor. Mentors share information and skills-building tools on conflict resolution, non-violent discipline, family planning, and couple communication. At the end of each month, pairs or trios of mentors hold group reflection sessions with all mentored fathers. In months 5 and 6 of the intervention, spouses join the home visits and group sessions. Community-level intervention components include: 1) monthly educational poster campaigns that showcase nonviolent discipline and conflict resolution strategies; 2) community-hosted celebrations at the end of the intervention to acknowledge the accomplishments of the young fathers.
Behavioral: Responsible Engaged and Loving (REAL) Fathers Initiative

Trial contacts and locations



Central trial contact

Kathryn M Barker, PhD, MPH; Dennis Nabembezi, MPH

Data sourced from

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