Title: A Comparison of the Wellbeing of Orphans and Abandoned Children Ages 6–12 in Institutional and Community-Based Care Settings in 5 Less Wealthy Nations
Authors: Kathryn Whetten, Jan Ostermann, Rachel Whetten, Brian Pence, Karen O’Donnell, Lynne Messer, Nathan Thielman, The Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO) Research Team
Leaders are struggling to care for the estimated 143,000,000 orphans and millions more abandoned children worldwide. Global policy makers are advocating that institution-living orphans and abandoned children (OAC) be moved as quickly as possible to a residential family setting and that institutional care be used as a last resort. This analysis tests the hypothesis that institutional care for OAC aged 6–12 is associated with worse health and wellbeing than community residential care using conservative two-tail tests.
The Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO) study employed two-stage random sampling survey methodology in 6 sites across 5 countries to identify 1,357 institution-living and 1,480 community-living OAC ages 6–12, 658 of whom were double-orphans or abandoned by both biological parents. Survey analytic techniques were used to compare cognitive functioning, emotion, behavior, physical health, and growth. Linear mixed-effects models were used to estimate the proportion of variability in child outcomes attributable to the study site, care setting, and child levels and institutional versus community care settings. Conservative analyses limited the community living children to double-orphans or abandoned children.
Health, emotional and cognitive functioning, and physical growth were no worse for institution-living than community-living OAC, and generally better than for community-living OAC cared for by persons other than a biological parent. Differences between study sites explained 2–23% of the total variability in child outcomes, while differences between care settings within sites explained 8–21%. Differences among children within care settings explained 64–87%. After adjusting for sites, age, and gender, institution vs. community-living explained only 0.3–7% of the variability in child outcomes.
This study does not support the hypothesis that institutional care is systematically associated with poorer wellbeing than community care for OAC aged 6–12 in those countries facing the greatest OAC burden. Much greater variability among children within care settings was observed than among care settings type. Methodologically rigorous studies must be conducted in those countries facing the new OAC epidemic in order to understand which characteristics of care promote child wellbeing. Such characteristics may transcend the structural definitions of institutions or family homes.
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Title: Effects of stigma on the mental health of adolescents orphaned by AIDS
Authors: Lucie Cluver, Frances Gardner, Don Operario
By 2010, an estimated 18.4 million children in Sub-Saharan Africa will be orphaned by AIDS. Research in South Africa shows that AIDS orphanhood is independently associated with heightened levels of psychological problems. This study is the first to explore the mediating effects of stigma and other factors operating on a community level, on associations between AIDS orphanhood and mental health. We assessed the associations of four risk factors that can potentially be addressed at a community level (bullying, stigma, community violence, and lack of positive activities) with psychological problems and orphanhood status.
One thousand twenty-five participants aged 10-19 were recruited from deprived urban settlements in South Africa. The sample included adolescents orphaned by AIDS (n = 425), adolescents orphaned by non-AIDS causes (n = 241), and nonorphaned adolescents (n = 278). Participants were interviewed using standardized psychological measures of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, peer problems, delinquency, and conduct problems. Information on risk factors and demographic characteristics were also assessed.
AIDS-orphaned adolescents reported higher levels of stigma and fewer positive activities than other groups. There were no reported differences on bullying or community violence. All community-level risk factors were associated with poorer psychological outcomes. Multivariate analyses controlling for age and gender showed that experience of stigma significantly mediated associations between AIDS orphanhood and poor psychological outcomes.
Reduction of AIDS-related stigma could potentially reduce adverse psychological outcomes among AIDS-orphaned adolescents.
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Study Title: Pathways to health and well-being: social networks of orphans and abandoned youth
Context: Globally, 153 million children are estimated to have been orphaned as defined by the death of one or both parents due to diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, maternal mortality, unintentional injuries, natural disasters and armed conflict: AIDS accounts for 16.6 million of these children. Little is known, however, about the social networks that have been informally established that may assist orphaned and abandoned children (OAC) as they transition from structured family care or residential facility settings to their adult lives.
Study aims: The primary goal of this study is to determine key factors that may put youth at a disadvantage as they transition from structured care settings into their adult lives and those that support positive transitions. To accomplish this, researchers will study existing education and employment support networks as well as sexual communities. Researchers will then be able to determine how certain characteristics of these networks are associated with OAC health outcomes, including poor education, ability to generate income, and HIV risk-taking behaviors. Based on prior OAC-related research, this study expects to find that OAC networks are small and lack variability, leading to reduced access to education, fewer positive employment opportunities, and increased sexual-risk behavior. Findings will be used to construct potential interventions to promote OAC health and well-being.
Methods: This study will use a “network analysis approach” to identify major characteristics of OAC social and sexual networks. Researchers will then examine the association between network factors and OAC outcomes in two steps: examining the relationships between social network characteristics and education and income-generation outcomes, and between sexual network characteristics and HIV-risk outcomes. Researchers expect to learn which social and sexual network features are associated with poor outcomes, such as educational accomplishment, obtaining employment, and high sexual risk behavior. Such risk behaviors include an early age of sexual debut, a high number of sexual partners, and certain characteristics of the sexual partners themselves. This research will provide the basis for designing interventions to prevent disenfranchisement as OAC enter their adult lives. With this research, we will be able to learn how to effectively design community networks for OAC to prevent poor health and lifestyle outcomes.
- To determine if OAC network features account for success in educational, income generation, and sexual risk-taking behaviors
- To provide the basis for social network and sexual network interventions to reduce damage done to OAC to prevent disenfranchisement as OAC become adults.
Principal Investigator: Lynne Messer (Duke University)
Investigators: Bernard Agala (Duke University), Cyrilla Amanya (ACE Africa, Kenya), Misganaw Eticha (SVO Ethiopia), Amy Hobbie (Duke University) Dafrosa Itemba (TAWREF, Tanzania), Rachel Manongi (KCMC, Tanzania), Jim Moody (Duke University), Vanroth Vann (Homeland, Cambodia), Augustine Wasonga (ACE Africa, Kenya), Kathryn Whetten (Duke University), Rachel Whetten (Duke University)
Contact: [email protected]
Study Title: Improving Outcomes for Orphaned Youth: Implementation of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Childhood Traumatic Grief
Context: Approximately 50 million orphaned and abandoned adolescents currently live in sub-Saharan Africa. Previous studies have indicated that many of these children and adolescents, who often have mental health problems associated with parental loss, have high rates of other traumatic experiences and ongoing trauma exposure. Because the gap in mental health care is large in sub-Saharan Africa, with few individuals in need of treatment receiving even minimal support, more information regarding how to best implement effective interventions, like Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) for orphaned and abandoned children (OAC) is needed. Cognitive behavioral therapy approaches have been shown to be effective in low- and middle-income countries with adults and in wealthier nations with children and adolescents. More research on the effectiveness of CBT approaches effect resource-poor settings is needed. It is also critical to identify what level of provider and supervisor support is needed for maximum effectiveness and local feasibility.
Study Aims: This research will examine the effectiveness of TF-CBT for treating unresolved grief and traumatic stress for OAC and adolescents in two East African countries, Tanzania and Kenya. The randomized trial will examine the effectiveness of TF-CBT compared to receipt of services as usual in these countries. The study involves collaboration with local organizations in Tanzania and Kenya, in which nine local counselors in each country will be trained by both a US-based TF-CBT expert and Tanzanian lay counselors who gained TF-CBT expertise in a previous feasibility study of TF-CBT for OAC, to deliver group-based TF-CBT for childhood traumatic grief to children ages 7-13. This study will evaluate the effectiveness of TF-CBT compared to existing services as usual orphan supports. The study will also examine the impact of implementation factors (e.g., intervention fidelity, lay counselor-supervisor relationship, child/guardian attendance) to study how enhanced local involvement and responsibility (i.e., Tanzanian lay counselor involvement in co-training and supervision) impacts outcomes.
Methods: This study build on previous work demonstrating that TF-CBT is a feasible and acceptable approach for OAC and adolescents by including a control group to properly examine the effectiveness of the TF-CBT approach. The 18 counselors who are trained in TF-CBT will deliver the treatment in 20 groups in each country, 10 rural and 10 urban, resulting in a total of 320 children and adolescents receiving the treatment (40 groups). TF-CBT and mental health experts will oversee the training of the lay counselors and the treatment given to the groups.
- The study will examine the effectiveness of TF-CBT treatment for OAC and adolescents, as compared to receipt of services as usual in two East African Countries.
- Incorporating experienced lay counselors in providing training and supervision in TF-CBT will inform future efforts to build local expertise and sustainability. This work will inform not only TF-CBT for CTG efforts but also efforts for scale up of other mental health interventions.
- Generate important recommendations for OAC treatment and training approaches that are effective in low- and middle-resource settings.
M-Principal Investigators: Shannon Dorsey (University of Washington) and Kathryn Whetten (Duke University)
Investigators: Dafrosa Itemba (TAWREF), Kevin King (University of Washington), Rachel Manongi (KCMC), Karen O’Donnell (Duke University), Augustine Wasonga (ACE Africa)
Contact Information: [email protected]
Study Title: Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO): Longitudinal study of orphaned and abandoned children (OAC) from ages 6-12 to ages 15-21 living in 6 diverse settings
Context: International policymakers are struggling to find solutions for the estimated 153 million children worldwide who have had at least one parent die, largely due to high mortality rates from conditions such as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and pregnancy complications. Millions more do not know the whereabouts of their parents. In light of the large presence of orphaned and abandoned children, especially in low- and middle-income countries continued research is needed that allows policy makers and providers to understand and develop locally feasible and appropriate ways to care for the children.
Study Aims: Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO) is longitudinal study conducted in five countries over a period of 9-10 years thanks to 2 consecutive National Institutes of Child Health and Development (NICHD) funded studies. OAC were ages 6-12 at baseline and will be ages 15-21 at the conclusion of the study. This unique population-based study is the only one of its kind that follows orphaned and abandoned children (OAC) for up to 9 years in culturally and structurally diverse settings allowing for a glimpse into what current care options are and the effects of that care and other life events over time on: health, cognition, emotion, educational attainment, labor force participation (including forced labor), sexual risk taking, marital patterns and community engagement.
Methods: OAC ages 6-12 and living in family settings were recruited from six diverse study areas in five countries: Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Bungoma District (Kenya), Kilimanjaro Region (Tanzania), Battambang District (Cambodia), and Hyderabad and Nagaland (India) (N=1480). The sampling strategy involved the selection of 50 sampling areas (‘‘clusters’’) at each site and five OAC from each cluster. From comprehensive lists of residential facilities in study area, 83 facilities were randomly selected for including in the study with 1,357 OAC then randomly selected from lists of children of the appropriate age from each facility. Baseline assessments were collected for children and caregivers being in May 2006: enrollment continued for 22 months. OAC were defined as children who had at least one parent die or who were abandoned by both parents. In households with multiple eligible children, one child was selected as the child whose first name started with the earliest letter in the alphabet. Interviews with children’s self-identified primary caregivers were conducted in their respective native language in the child’s residence. Six-month follow-up assessments were conducted in 5 of the 6 study sites and 12-months follow-up assessments in all sites. Interview windows for follow-up assessments were open from one month prior to two months after the scheduled follow-up date.
- The study seeks to determine which environmental characteristics (e.g. home, community, culture, social networks, etc.) promote positive and negative outcomes for OAC as they transition through to young adulthood. With this knowledge, more appropriate local, national and international policies can be created for this age group and appropriate care options can be more actively supported.
- The study will seek to examine how personal factors, including life events, (e.g. number of potentially traumatic events experienced, emotional health, and cognitive development) affect orphans and identify potential interventions that could improve outcomes for the adult lives of orphans.
Principal Investigator: Kathryn Whetten (Duke University)
Investigators: Bernard Agala (Duke University), Cyrilla Amanya (ACE Africa, Kenya), Misganaw Eticha (SVO Ethiopia), Amy Hobbie (Duke University), Dafrosa Itemba (TAWREF, Tanzania), Rachel Manongi (KCMC, Tanzania), Lynne Messer (Duke University), (KCMC, Tanzania), Karen O’Donnell (Duke University), Jan Ostermann (Duke University), Brian Pence (Duke University), Nathan Thielman (Duke University), Vanroth Vann (Homeland, Cambodia), Augustine Wasonga (ACE Africa, Kenya), Rachel Whetten (Duke University)
Contact Information: [email protected]