Research Projects

Research Projects Pietermaritzburg Campus

The HIV/AIDS Vaccines Ethics Group (HAVEG)

  • The HIV AIDS Vaccines Ethics Group (HAVEG) comprises of a multi-disciplinary team of core staff and consultants with backgrounds in the behavioural sciences, law and human rights, and research ethics. HAVEG undertakes empirical and conceptual research into ethico-legal complexities in HIV vaccine trials in South Africa, and is involved in the development of resources for vaccine stakeholders. We work with a range of role-players to facilitate the ethical conduct of HIV vaccine trials in our setting.  HAVEG has focused on key issues in such trials including informed consent for trial participation, ancillary care and standards of prevention, and adolescent participation.
Further details about HAVEG

Masculinity Research Group

  • This project is broadly concerned with understanding the psychology of masculinity, and especially some of the critical issues such as masculinity and HIV.

Further details about
Masculinity Research Group

The Pietermaritzburg Suicidology Project (PSP)

  • The Pietermaritzburg Suicidology Project (PSP) was established in 1983 in the context of a general hospital clinical psychology service. In developing a clinical psychology service at Northdale general Hospital, Pietermaritzburg, we found ourselves inundated with referrals from physicians concerning cases of suicidal behaviour, particularly in adolescents. In most cases these involved overdoses of medication or ingestion of poisonous substances. In view of the high incidence of the problem and complex psychosocial dynamics involved, we developed a treatment strategy that we in turn subjected to research evaluation. Our research has also developed to exploration of other facets of suicidal behaviour, including psychodynamics, family dynamics, gender, HIV/AIDS, culture, and prevention strategies.

Further details about Pietermaritzburg Suicidology Project

SARETI The South African Research Ethics Training Initiative

  • SARETI is a comprehensive multi-disciplinary education programme in health research ethics for Africa. SARETI aims to build African capacity for the ethical review of health research, and to strengthen Africa’s institutional training capacity to achieve and sustain this.
    SARETI provides a variety of educational programmes, varying from short workshops and short courses to full Masters programmes.
    The partners in SARETI are the University of KwaZulu-Natal (School of Psychology) the University of Pretoria (School of Medicine), and the Johns Hopkins University, Berman Institute of Bioethics.

Further details about SARETI

The Ethics, Law, and Human Rights Collaborating Centre of the

African AIDS Vaccine Programme

AAVP African AIDS Vaccine Programme

  • Situated in the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Psychology, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, the Ethics, Law, and Human Rights (ELH) Collaborating Centre of the AAVP works to facilitate the ethical conduct of HIV vaccine trials in selected African countries proximal to running trials.

The Primary Objectives of ELH are to:

  • Assess and strengthen the ethical-legal framework in African countries;
  • Facilitate networking and consensus-building among major stakeholders; and
  • Conceptually address and develop resources on key ethical issues in HIV vaccine trials.

AAVP ELH has been funded from 2002. For the current funding cycle which runs until 2009, the ELH Chair is Prof Douglas Wassenaar, the Coordinator is Mrs Nicole Mamotte, and ELH Executive members are Ms Cathy Slack (HAVEG) and Ms Ann Strode (Faculty of Law, UKZN). International advisory members include Dr Pamela Andanda (Kenya), Prof Clement Ademabowo (Nigeria), Prof Coumba Toure Kane (Senegal), Dr Aceme Nyika (Tanzania), Ms Kitty Grant (South Africa) and Dr Henrietta Consolo (United Kingdom).

Contact Details:
Tel: +27 33 260 6165
Fax: +27 33 260 6065
Further details about ELH

Mapping African Research Ethics Capacity: MARC

with a URL link to:

Research Projects Howard College Campus

Embarking on the Marking Memories Mashishing Project

  • On 4 June 2019 Dr Mary Lange, Nongcebo Ngcobo and Dr Lauren Dyll set out for Mpumalanga to conduct a preliminary field trip for the research project, “Marking memories: pre-industrial to contemporary, north of the Garib River and west of the Lembombo Mountains”. The project aims to operationalise indigenous knowledge systems in a diverse contemporary South African society by the inclusion of diverse African languages, and comparisons of past through to present engravings found in two different regions of South Africa.
  • (Click here to view document) Embarking on the Mashishing Marking Memories Project Dyll June 2019

Info for Africa:

The AmaQhawe (Champions) Family Project:

  • This project focuses on strengthening families of pre-adolescent children and community networks. Evidence shows that in addition to education about HIV and AIDS, communication, parental warmth and active monitoring of children helps to reduce risk behaviour in adolescents. Increased social control at a community level is also emerging as a protective factor against risk behaviour. With this in mind, the AmaQhawe Family Project was adapted from a programme originally developed in the USA: The Collaborative HIV/AIDS Adolescent Mental Health Project (CHAMP).

CHAMP positive:

  • This is an extension of the AmaQhawe Family Project, focused on working specifically with HIV positive children and their caregivers to assist children to cope with their status as well as reduce risk behaviour in adolescence. The project is in collaboration Columbia University, McCord Hospital and the Human Science Research Council and funded by the National Institute of Nursing in the US.

Mental Health and Poverty Project

  • This project is a five-year research programme, funded by the British Department for International Development (DFID), to investigate mental health policy development and implementation in four African countries, namely Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. It is part of an important effort to understand the relationship between mental ill-health and poverty and aims to develop and evaluate national, provincial and district level interventions in order to break the negative cycle of poverty and mental ill-health. Lead partners include UCT, WHO, University of Leeds, UKZN and HSRC.

Community Projects
Fast Forward programme:

  • This programme is facilitated by postgraduate students who participate alongside Grade 11 learners from Amangwane and Chesterville Extension secondary schools in a range of group activities, building relationships and critically engaging with developmental issues. The name of the programme entails two metaphorical allusions. It suggests, first, movement, energy and being propelled to achieve; and second, the possibilities for projecting ourselves into possible futures and the active construction of life-stories. The Fast Forward programme, therefore, aims to enable learners to explore aspects of their current and possible identities and to develop their own sense of potential, agency and identity.
  • Fast Forward learners at a dance and music workshop.
  • The Fast Forward core team: Tarryn Frankish (masters student); Prof Jill Bradbury; Siyanda Ndlovu (PhD student); Dr Jude Clark.

Community Psychology Projects

  • As part of the master’ course in Community Psychology/Interventions, Clinical, Counselling, Educational and Research students at both sites are required to undertake a community project involving the promotion of mental health, prevention of mental disorders and/or programme evaluation. Interventions conducted to date include (but are not limited to) suicide prevention, fatherhood and caregiving and HIV/Aids Awareness.

HIV/AIDS Service Learning Module

  • Students registered for the honours service learning module engage in a critical analysis of the South African HIV/AIDS epidemic and prevention interventions aimed at youth. Using a social constructionist framework the students develop a HIV/AIDS / sexuality workshop, which is run with some of the learners who attended the Fast Forward Programme. The students work with the learners in a participatory way, once a week, over a five week period.

International Collaboration

  • The School has active collaborations with the HSRC, Mt Sinai School of Medicine (USA), the University of Illinois (USA) and the National Institute of Mental Health.
    Health Promotion programme: through our membership of the International Union of Health Promotion and Education, and election onto the International Board of Trustees of the IUHPE, the School has linkages in place with a broad range of African and other international universities (e.g. University of Ibadan, University of Bergen), research institutes (e.g. Centers for Disease Control- CDC, USA), and NGO’s (e.g. Victoria Health, Australia) active in the field of health promotion
    Mental Health and Poverty Project partnerships: World Health Organization, Nuffield Centre for International Health and Development (UK), the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and the Human Sciences Research Council