Journal Article

Exploring experiences in peer mentoring as a strategy for capacity building in sexual reproductive health and HIV service integration in Kenya

Background
The Integra Initiative designed, tested, and adapted protocols for peer mentorship in order to improve service providers' skills, knowledge, and capacity to provide quality integrated HIV and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. This paper describes providers' experiences in mentoring as a method of capacity building. Service providers who were skilled in the provision of FP or PNC services were selected to undergo a mentorship training program and to subsequently build the capacity of their peers in SRH-HIV integration.

Methods
A qualitative assessment was conducted to assess provider experiences and perceptions about peer mentoring. In-depth interviews were conducted with twelve mentors and twenty-three mentees who were trained in SRH and HIV integration. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and imported to NVivo 9 for analysis. Thematic analysis methods were used to develop a coding framework from the research questions and other emerging themes.

Results
Mentorship was perceived as a feasible and acceptable method of training among mentors and mentees. Both mentors and mentees agreed that the success of peer mentoring largely depended on cordial relationship and consensus to work together to achieve a specific set of skills. Mentees reported improved knowledge, skills, self-confidence, and team work in delivering integrated SRH and HIV services as benefits associated with mentoring. They also associated mentoring with an increase in the range of services available and the number of clients seeking those services. Successful mentorship was conditional upon facility management support, sufficient supplies and commodities, a positive work environment, and mentors selection.

Conclusion
Mentoring was perceived by both mentors and mentees as a sustainable method for capacity building, which increased providers' ability to offer a wide range of and improved access to integrated SRH and HIV services.