Study Site

This study is being conducted in the Northern Region in Ghana, the largest of the 10 administrative regions and one of the three poorest regions in the country. It has the highest rates (35%) of economically active children ages 5 to 17 in the country. The Northern Region also has 20 districts and is noted as having one of the highest incidences of multi-dimensional poverty index (MPI—amount of poor households experiencing deprivations at a point in time) compared to the rest of the Ghana. Recent MPI estimates indicate that from 2006 to 2010, the region had a higher poverty rate than the other two impoverished regions in the Northern Ghana (81%). Three local languages are spoken in the region: Gonja, Dagbani, and Kokomba.

The study is being implemented by BasicNeeds-Ghana located in Tamale, the capital city of the Northern Region. BasicNeeds-Ghana is a non-governmental organization that implements and promotes mental health care and services to those with mental health challenges and/or epilepsy.


In partnership with BasicNeeds-Ghana, the SMART Africa-Ghana team is working with 180 children and their guardians. Similar to the SMART Africa-Uganda study, participants in Ghana are receiving an adapted version of the evidence-based Multiple Family Group Intervention (known as 4Rs and 2Ss). This intervention has been implemented in the U.S. among families with children from resource-limited settings experiencing behavioral health challenges, including Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder.

The 4Rs and 2Ss has been revised and adapted to the Ghana context in collaboration with community stakeholders and has been renamed “Dang-Malgu” (Family togetherness in Dagbani, the local language). Our Dang Malgu  manual also incorporates drawings from local children. These drawings can be found here.

This manualized intervention includes 16 sessions that cover topics including but not limited to: building on family strengths, respectful communication, behavioral health knowledge,  stigma, dealing with stress at home, and problem-solving strategies to address broken rules.

Study Partners

BasicNeeds-Ghana provides mental health services and care to the communities of Ghana. The organization works to empower and provide services to individuals and families experiencing mental health challenges and/or epilepsy.

University of Ghana- School of Public Health trains public health practitioners who will be leaders and change agents for health development in Ghana and in the wider African context.

University of Ghana- Department of Social Work provides social work education and training to students in the country and prepares competent social workers who will continue to improve lives in Ghana.

Research Team

Meet the SMART Africa Ghana Research Team

Contact Information

For more information, please contact our Ghana Co-Leads Dr. Emmanuel Asampong and/or Dr. Abdallah Ibrahim at