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The University of Southampton
Couples HEalth Research and Intervention Studies (CHERISH)

The CHERISH Team Visit Our Partner Sites in South Africa

Published: 11 November 2019
CHERISH Team en route to SA
Dr Frank Feng, Dr Kate Morton and Professor Nuala McGrath en route to South Africa, October 2019

The CHERISH team meet with their partner organisations on a weekly basis, connecting with colleagues in KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town via Zoom meeting links. It’s a great way to stay in touch, allowing us to not only push forward our programme of work, but also to share a smile and build the kind of close working relationships that are the foundation of a successful team.

Of course, a video link is great, but as the work has moved forward and gathered pace, the prospect of meeting face-to-face, and to spend time working together, becomes increasingly important, so a visit to our partner sites in SA was arranged – 3 weeks divided between the Human Sciences Research Council in KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Cape Town.


In KwaZulu-Natal, the team delivered a series of well-attended seminars, exploring ideas for optimising HIV testing interventions with a dedicated Community Working Group, delivering seminars on power calculations and research design, and public involvement in research. The visit also gave the team an opportunity to draft the protocol and ethics application for the next stage of the study, Igugu Lethu Study (Cherishing our relationship): Evaluation of a Couples-Focused Intervention to Increase Testing for Health including HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Among Heterosexual Couples in Vulindlela, South Africa.

At the University of Cape Town, the team switched their focus to diabetes and the design of a person-centred intervention to improve diabetes control. Working with UCT colleagues, the team delivered seminars and met with a working group of people living with diabetes (and partners of people living with diabetes) in order to gather understanding of partner involvement. An intensive work schedule, but the team were able to make significant steps forward in developing the formative work plans for the next stage of the study.

Now back at UoS, the team have settled back into a more familiar routine, but work continues at pace.

“The visit really pushed forward both site research agendas, gave a great opportunity for the post-docs to become familiar with the settings at each site, the team members from all 3 partners to get to know each other more and enriched our communications across the sites since returning to the UK”

The visit was part of Prof Nuala McGrath’s 5 year, NIHR-funded Global Health Professorship, “Improving adult health in sub-Saharan Africa through couples-focused interventions for HIV, STIs and diabetes.”

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