COVID-19 e-Parenting for Lifelong Health (ePLH) Pilot study:

A silhoutte of a family with arms outstretched, text: Parenting for Lifelong Health

Funded by: The ePLH pilot study is funded by the UKRI GCRF/Newton Fund, the LEGO Foundation, the philanthropic donors to the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 Research Response Fund, the Oak Foundation, The Human Safety Net, UNICEF Philippines and UNICEF Malaysia and the UKRI GCRF Accelerating Achievement for Africa’s Adolescents (Accelerate) Hub.

Start date: January 2021

End date: Ongoing

ePLH Project Outline

Parenting for Lifelong Health


With over a billion children out of school or childcare due to COVID-19, families across the world are struggling to care for their children. According to a World Bank report, parents and caregivers are coping with movement restrictions, stress, illness and financial insecurity, along with the threat of severe economic recession in the next two years. Families are under extreme stress, leading to a global escalation of child abuse. 


Parenting for Lifelong Health (PLH) is a suite of free parenting programmes to promote positive child-parent relationships in low-resource settings. These programmes have been developed and rigorously tested through a collaboration between WHO, Stellenbosch University in South Africa, the University of Cape Town in South Africa, the universities of Oxford and Bangor in the United Kingdom, and UNICEF. After showing positive results in the evaluations, the programmes are currently being scaled up in over 20 low- and middle-income countries across Sub-Saharan Africa, South-eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean. Additionally, several studies of the programmes are currently underway to further develop the evidence base for these interventions. The ePLH study will evaluate the feasibility of an online version of the Parenting for Lifelong Health programmes, ParentChat, for young children and adolescents delivered via online text messaging platforms such as WhatsApp or Viber.


The ePLH Study

Due to the impact of COVID-19, there are limitations on the capacity of traditional in-person parenting programmes to reach families in need. The aim of this study is to test the feasibility of an online parenting support group programme (ParentChat) for parents or caregivers with children aged 2 to 17. The pilot study will be conducted in six countries: Malaysia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Philippines, and South Africa. Delivered by implementing partner agencies, ParentChat will provide evidence-based parenting information and interactive learning experiences via group-based online discussions using text, audio, and visual messages. The programme aims to reduce child maltreatment while improving parent-child relationships and child well-being.




1. To test the feasibility of the ParentChat programme in six countries by assessing:

1. Implementation fidelity and quality;

2. Recruitment, retention, and engagement of participants;

3. Cultural and contextual relevance, acceptability, and satisfaction;

2. To evaluate at immediate post-test and at weekly intervals the initial effects of ParentChat on the primary outcome of physical and emotional abuse, and the proximal outcomes of positive parenting and parenting stress.


3. To evaluate at immediate post-test the initial effects of ParentChat on the secondary outcomes of attitude toward corporal punishment, child behaviour problems, parental well-being, and parent exposure to intimate partner violence and coercion


Study Team

Lead Principal Investigator:

Dr Jamie M. Lachman (Dept. of Social Policy and Intervention, Oxford University & MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow)


Co-Principal Investigators:

Associate Professor Dr Rumaya Binti Juhari (University Putra Malaysia)

Dr Galina Lesco (Health for Youth Association, Moldova)

Ida Ferdinandi (UNICEF Montenegro)

Professor Liane Peña Alampay (Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines)

Dr Rosanne Jocson (Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines)

Dr Kufre Okop (University of Cape Town, South Africa)

Professor Marija Raleva (Alternativa, North Macedonia)



Viorel Babii (Health for Youth Association, Moldova)

Ivo Kunovski (Alternativa, North Macedonia)

Jennel Reyes (Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines)

Professor Catherine Ward (University of Cape Town, South Africa)

Dr Hlengiwe Sacolo (University of Cape Town, South Africa)

Dr Jenny Doubt (Dept. of Social Policy and Intervention, Oxford University)

Professor Frances Gardner (Dept. of Social Policy and Intervention, Oxford University)

Professor Lucie Cluver (Dept. of Social Policy and Intervention, Oxford University & Dept. of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town)

Stephanie Eagling-Peche (Dept. of Social Policy and Intervention, Oxford University)