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Friday, March 6 • 1:05pm - 2:05pm
A pilot intervention to promote psychosocial health and empowerment among female commercial sex workers in Kathmandu, Nepal: Program feasibility and impact on peer educators

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Female commercial sex workers (FCSWs) in Kathmandu are vulnerable to an array of occupational risks, including various reproductive and sexual health hazards, unsafe and unstable working conditions, and numerous forms of violence, harassment and exploitation (National Centre for AIDS and STD Control, 2011). These challenging circumstances compromise the psychosocial health and empowerment of FCSWs, which in turn affects their ability to protect themselves from future harms. Peer education programs have been established as an effective method for reaching FCSWs (Medley, Kennedy, O’Reilly, & Sweat, 2009), but have not yet been tested as a means to promote psychosocial health. The present study piloted a brief peer education intervention in collaboration with a non-governmental organization (NGO) to empower and promote the psychosocial health of FCSWs in Kathmandu, Nepal. Ten women were trained as peer educators and, through formal and informal teaching opportunities, reached over 140 FCSWs with psychosocial health messages. Pre, post, and follow-up surveys were administered to the peer educators to assess the potential impact of the program on empowerment, psychosocial health, and peer education efficacy. Additionally, exit interviews were conducted with the peer educators to collect in-depth feedback regarding their training and teaching experiences. Two NGO field staff observed and commented on peer educator teaching competency and were also interviewed about the program. According to preliminary survey results, the peer educators reported an increase in three forms of empowerment—within, with others, and over resources, decreased shame and burnout, and increased happiness and efficacy to teach, communicate, lead and help others. NGO staff observed increased teaching competency across time. Exit interviews suggested additional program impacts, including increased self-realization and self-care and positive dispositional and relationship changes. Overall, findings suggest that peer education methods are a feasible and promising means to enhance the psychosocial health and empowerment of FCSWs.

Friday March 6, 2015 1:05pm - 2:05pm