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Background: There are 600 million girls in low and middle income countries (LMICs), many of whom are at great risk for poor health and education. There is thus great need for programs that can effectively improve wellbeing for these girls. Although many interventions have been developed to address these issues, most focus on health and education without integrating attention to social and emotional factors. This omission is unfortunate, as nascent evidence indicates that these factors are closely related to health and education. This paper describes the methods of a 4-arm randomized controlled trial among 3,560 adolescent girls in rural Bihar, India that tested whether adding an intervention targeting social-emotional issues (based on a “resilience framework”) to an adolescent health intervention would improve emotional, social, physical, and educational wellbeing to a greater extent than its components and a control group. Study arms were: (1) Girls First, a combination of the Girls First Resilience Curriculum (RC) and the Girls First Health Curriculum (HC); (2) Girls First Resilience Curriculum (RC) alone; (3) Girls First Health Curriculum (HC) alone; and (4) a school-as-usual control group (SC). Methods: Seventy-six schools were randomized (19 per condition) and 74 local women with a tenth grade education were trained and monitored to facilitate the program. Quantitative data were collected from 3,560 girls over 4 assessment points with very low rates of participant attrition. Qualitative assessments were conducted with a subset of 99 girls and 27 facilitators. Results and conclusions: In this article, we discuss guiding principles that facilitated trial implementation, including integrating diverse local and non-local sources of knowledge, focusing on flexibility of planning and implementation, prioritizing systematic measurement selection, and striking a balance between scientific rigor and real-world feasibility.


Resilience, Adolescents, Physical wellbeing, Emotional wellbeing, Social wellbeing, Educational wellbeing, Intervention, India, Girls, Methodology, Randomized controlled trial

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


This work is freely available courtesy of BioMed Central.

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