​Long-term Health Outcomes and Dissemination Strategies for Adolescent Character Strength Interventions​


Director: Tom L. Osborn

Institution: Shamiri Institute Inc.

With this project, the Shamiri Institute will study the long-term benefits of the Shamiri Intervention, a simple, scalable, low-stigma, and low-cost character-strength program for Kenyan adolescents in low-income settings. Named for the Swahili word for “thrive,” the Shamiri Intervention teaches simple concepts such as growth mindset, gratitude, and sense of purpose, and is designed to fundamentally change the way that youths view themselves and their place in the world.

Led by project director Tom Osborn, Shamiri Institute’s executive director and Katherine Venturo-Conerly, the Institute’s scientific director, the team will assess whether the brief character strength intervention improves long-term health and academic outcomes and whether such interventions can be implemented for maximum impact at scale. In recent randomized controlled trials, the multicultural and interdisciplinary U.S.—Kenya team has shown that the Shamiri Intervention improves adolescent mental health and interpersonal relationships, with effects extending to seven-month follow-up, and also improves school grades. Now, investigating the intervention’s effects on a wider variety of long-term health outcomes is a critical next step to gauge the potential of such a character strength intervention to address global health challenges.

To test the long-term efficacy of the program, the team will complete a follow-up study of three of their prior randomized clinical trials to determine the three-year health outcomes, as well as conduct a real-world dissemination study exploring the scalability, acceptability, and effectiveness of a large-scale dissemination model for character-strength interventions in Kenyan secondary schools. This will be the first study to test the effects of character strength interventions on such a rich range of health outcomes over such an extended period, and one of the first studies to benchmark the effectiveness of a large-scale dissemination program against outcomes from carefully controlled trials.

Investigating character strength interventions’ long-term outcomes and dissemination models in an understudied population and with a large sample size could be highly impactful. The project has the potential to contribute significantly to the scientific literature, directly impact the lives of more than 3,000 Kenyan youths, create employment opportunities for Kenyans, and possibly provide a template for scaling up character-strength interventions around the world.


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