Tag: youth

Title: Orphanhood and Completion of Compulsory School Education Among Young People in South Africa: Findings From a National Representative Survey

Authors: Don Operario, Lucie Cluver, Helen Rees, Catherine MacPhail, Audrey Pettifor

Date: Feb. 21, 2008

Abstract: We examined the association of orphanhood and completion of compulsory school education among young people in South Africa. In South Africa, school attendance is compulsory through grade 9, which should be completed before age 16. However, family and social factors such as orphanhood and poverty can hinder educational attainment. Participants were 10,452 16–24-year-olds who completed a South African national representative household survey. Overall, 23% had not completed compulsory school levels. In univariate analyses, school completion was lower among those who had experienced orphanhood during school-age years, males, and those who reported household poverty. In multivariate analyses controlling for household poverty, females who had experienced maternal or paternal orphanhood were less likely to have completed school; orphanhood was not independently associated with males’ school completion. Findings highlight the need for evidence-informed policies to address the education and social welfare needs of orphans and vulnerable youth, particularly females, in South Africa.

[button link=”http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1532-7795.2008.00555.x/abstract;jsessionid=F621AA038F369363EFA5AC2DB33827FC.d03t03?systemMessage=Wiley+Online+Library+will+be+disrupted+on+26+May+from+10%3A00-12%3A00+BST+%2805%3A00-07%3A00+EDT%29+for+essential+maintenance” color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] View Online[/button]

Title: AIDS-Orphanhood and Caregiver HIV/AIDS Sickness Status: Effects on Psychological Symptoms in South African Youth

Authors: Lucie Cluver, Mark Orkin, Mark E Boyes, Frances Gardner, Joy Nikelo

Date: Feb, 7, 2012



Research has established that AIDS-orphaned youth are at high risk of internalizing psychological distress. However, little is known about youth living with caregivers who are unwell with AIDS or youth simultaneously affected by AIDS-orphanhood and caregiver AIDS sickness.


1025 South African youth were interviewed in 2005 and followed up in 2009 (71% retention). Participants completed standardized measures of anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress. Comparison groups were youth who were AIDS-orphaned, other-orphaned, and nonorphaned, and those whose caregivers were sick with AIDS, sick with another disease, or healthy.


Longitudinal analyses showed that both AIDS-orphanhood and caregiver AIDS sickness predicted increased depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress symptoms over a 4-year period, independently of sociodemographic cofactors and of each other. Caregiver sickness or death by non-AIDS causes, and having a healthy or living caregiver, did not predict youth symptomatology. Youths simultaneously affected by caregiver AIDS sickness and AIDS-orphanhood showed cumulative negative effects.


Findings suggest that policy and interventions, currently focused on orphanhood, should include youth whose caregivers are unwell with AIDS.

[button link=”http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Nikelo%20J%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=22313551″ color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] View Online[/button]

Title: Persisting mental health problems among AIDS-orphaned children in South Africa

Authors: Lucie Cluver, Mark Orkin, Frances Gardner, Mark E Boyes

Date: 2011



By 2008, 12 million children in sub-Saharan Africa were orphaned by AIDS. Cross-sectional studies show psychological problems for AIDS-orphaned children, but until now no longitudinal study has explored enduring psychological effects of AIDS-orphanhood in low-income countries.


A 4-year longitudinal follow-up of AIDS-orphaned children with control groups of other-orphans and non-orphans. 1021 children (M = 13.4 years, 50% female, 98% isiXhosa-speaking) were interviewed in 2005 and followed up in 2009 with 71% retention (49% female, M = 16.9 years), in poor urban South African settlements. Children were interviewed using sociodemographic questionnaires and well-validated standardised scales for assessing depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. Data were analysed using mixed-design ANOVA and backward-stepping regression.


AIDS-orphaned children showed higher depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) scores in both 2005 and 2009 when compared with other-orphans and non-orphans. Backward-stepping regression, controlling for baseline mental health, and sociodemographic cofactors such as age, gender, and type of bereavement, revealed that being AIDS-orphaned in 2005 was associated with depression, anxiety, and PTSD scores in 2009. This was not the case for other-orphaned or non-orphaned children. Age interacted with orphan status, such that there was a steep rise in psychological distress in the AIDS-orphaned group, but no rise with age amongst other-orphans and non-orphans.


Negative mental health outcomes amongst AIDS-orphaned children are maintained and worsen over a 4-year period. It is important that psychosocial support programmes are sustained, and focus on youth as well as young children.



[button link=”http://www.mendeley.com/research/persisting-mental-health-problems-among-aidsorphaned-children-south-africa/” color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] View Online[/button]


Title: Effects of stigma on the mental health of adolescents orphaned by AIDS

Authors: Lucie Cluver, Frances Gardner, Don Operario

Date: 2008



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.

[button link=”http://www.mendeley.com/research/effects-stigma-mental-health-adolescents-orphaned-aids/” color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] View Online[/button]

Study Title: Improving Outcomes for Youth in Foster Care: Trauma-Focused CBT

Context: Children and adolescents in foster care have significant, and often unmet, mental health needs (Leslie, Hurlburt, Landsverk, & Barth, 2004). For school-aged youth, the most common problems are disruptive behavior disorders and sequelae of trauma exposure (e.g., Posttraumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD], Depression) (Landsverk, Burns, & Stambaugh, in press). Such mental health problems, in turn, are linked to a range of negative outcomes (e.g., functioning, placement stability/permanency) (James, Landsverk, & Slymen, 2004; Landsverk, Davis, Granger, Newton, & Johnson, 1996). There is tremendous interest in the field to increase use of evidence-based treatments that target specific mental health problems and needs of youth in foster care. Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) potentially provides an excellent fit. Evidence from randomized trials supports the efficacy of TF-CBT in treating PTSD, behavior problems, and other trauma sequelae (Cohen, Deblinger, Mannarino, & Steer, 2004). Although TF-CBT holds promise for youth in foster care, there are likely complexities in providing it to such youth. Findings from dismantling research indicate that caregiver involvement is crucial for maximizing treatment effects of TF-CBT (Deblinger, Lippman, & Steer, 1996). However, available evidence and our clinical experience suggest that foster parents are infrequently engaged in a proactive and ongoing manner in their foster children’s mental health treatment.

Study Aims: Therefore the primary aim of the proposed R34 is to conduct a pilot study of TF-CBT with children and adolescents in foster care, with a targeted focus on engaging foster parents in treatment. The proposed project brings together two complementary interventions-evidence-based engagement strategies (McKay, Stoewe, McCadam, & Gonzales, 1998) and TF-CBT (Cohen, Deblinger & Mannarino, 2006; Deblinger & Heflin, 1996)-in an attempt to improve treatment and outcomes for youth in foster care.

Methods: The project includes two phases: Phase 1: (a) preliminary feasibility study (N = 10) of the evidence-based engagement strategies and TF-CBT; and (b) refinement and development of a manualized engagement intervention based on feedback from foster parents and other key informants. Phase 2: pilot study (N=80) of the refined engagement strategies and TF-CBT (ECBT) compared to ‘usual practice’ TF-CBT (i.e., no specialized engagement) to assess implementation of the combined intervention and provide preliminary data on critical outcomes (e.g., PTS symptoms, behavioral problems, placement stability). Findings will be used to inform a large-scale randomized trial (i.e., R- 01) on effectiveness of ECBT to improve outcomes for youth in foster care with mental health problems. Youth in foster care have very high rates of mental health problems (Leslie, Hurlburt, Landsverk, & Barth, 2004). These include externalizing (e.g., conduct disorder, ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder) as well as internalizing (e.g., anxiety, depression, PTSD) problems. Recent research on epidemiology and treatment has suggested that this combination of symptoms is often related to youth in foster care’s extensive histories of exposure to trauma (Simms, Dubowitz, & Szilagyi, 2000) Therefore, effective treatment of the symptoms requires explicit evidence-based treatment that addresses both the underlying sequelae of trauma and the immediate behavioral manifestations. Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is an evidence- based treatment that appears promising, with specific modifications, for this group of high-risk youth (Deblinger, Lippman, & Steer, 1996).

Implications: The proposed research builds from and combines existing evidence- based strategies (Cohen, Deblinger, Mannarino, & Steer, 2004; McKay, Stoewe, McDadam, & Gonzales, 1998) to more effectively treat some of the nation’s most at-risk and vulnerable youth. Findings from this research will be used to develop and disseminate more effective treatments for youth with mental health problems in the foster care system. Such findings should help improve treatment, services, and outcomes within the entire system of care that serves youth with mental health problems (e.g., specialty mental health providers, child welfare and child protective services, juvenile justice).

Principal Investigator: Shannon Dorsey (University of Washington)

[button link=”http://projectreporter.nih.gov/project_info_description.cfm?aid=7879273&icde=11523140″ color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] View Online[/button]

Study Title: School support as structural HIV prevention for adolescent orphans in Western Kenya

Context: The HIV/AIDS pandemic has led to illness and early death for millions of adults, and this, in turn, has left many millions of orphans in sub-Saharan Africa. In Kenya, alone, there are more than 2.4 million orphans who are at great risk for school dropout, early sexual debut, and HIV infection. Approaching the fourth decade of the AIDS epidemic, many in the field have called for a paradigm shift in HIV prevention, to address structural, as well as individual-level, factors.

Study Aims: This study examines the impact of school support as a structural intervention, tested among adolescent Luo orphans in Nyanza Province, Kenya. The Luos have the highest HIV prevalence and largest orphan prevalence of all ethnic groups in the country. The study uses a rigorous randomized controlled trial design to test whether school support can retain adolescent orphans in school through the transition to high school, delay sexual debut, and reduce the likelihood of HIV and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infections. Specific aims for the proposed study are: 1) To experimentally test whether providing comprehensive school support to Luo orphaned boys and girls will reduce school dropout, reduce sexual risk behaviors, and prevent HIV/HSV-2 infection; 2) To conduct a process evaluation of the implementation of the program; and 3) To conduct comparative cost effectiveness analyses, specifying the intervention’s cost and return on investment as evidenced by cost per unit improvement in the primary outcomes of school enrollment, delay of sexual debut and prevention of risk behaviors and HIV/HSV-2 infection, as well as by gains in health- related quality of life.

Methods: The design randomizes 24 primary schools to intervention or control condition. All youth in grades 7 and 8 who have lost one or both parents, regardless of cause of death, will be invited to participate; the total number of participants to be recruited into the study is approximately 840 students, 420 in each condition. Youth in intervention schools will receive five years of school support, including tuition, fees, uniforms, and a school-based adult “helper.” Data will comprise annual ACASI surveys, school data (attendance, grades), and HIV/HSV-2 bio-specimens. Analyses will test posited mediators and gender moderation in causal pathways and program effects. Cost effectiveness analyses will add much needed policy-relevant information.

Public Health Relevance: Although millions of children have been orphaned as a result of the AIDS pandemic, few studies have considered the particular vulnerability of young orphaned adolescents for school dropout, risky sexual behaviors, and HIV infection. The Luo people of Nyanza Province have the highest proportion of orphans, highest HIV prevalence, and earliest sexual debut among all ethnic groups in Kenya. This structural intervention trial uses a strong conceptual framework and rigorous experimental design to test whether school support can keep adolescent Luo orphans in school, reduce sexual risk behaviors, and prevent HIV /HSV-2 infection. Process evaluation and cost effectiveness analyses add further relevance for policy development.

Principal Investigator: Hyunsan Cho (Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation)

[button link=”http://projectreporter.nih.gov/project_info_description.cfm?aid=8139508&icde=11423324″ color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] VIew Online[/button]

Title: Cognitive behavioral therapy for symptoms of trauma and traumatic grief in refugee youth

Author: Laura Murray, Judith Cohen, B Heidi Ellis, Anthony Mannarino

Date: 2008

Abstract: The diverse clinical presentation of refugee children and adolescents after their traumatic experiences requires a treatment model that can mitigate a number of internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Refugee populations also require interventions that can adjust to the wide-ranging experiences likely encountered during preflight, flight, and resettlement. There is some evidence that immigration stressors or social stressors, such as discrimination, are associated with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in refugee youth. Therefore refugee youth may benefit from multiple levels of services, ideally integrated. This article focuses on the mental and behavioral health component of services for refugee youth.

[button link=”http://www.mendeley.com/research/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-symptoms-trauma-traumatic-grief-refugee-youth/” color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] View Online[/button]

Study Title: Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Adjudicated Youth in Residential Treatment

Context: Adjudicated youth have high rates of trauma exposure and   Stress Disorder (PTSD) which place them at increased risk for future offending and incarceration. Few of these youth receive evidence-based developmentally appropriate PTSD treatment.

Study Aims: Adjudicated youth have high rates of trauma exposure and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but most have never received effective treatment. The purpose of this study is to test two alternative methods for training therapists to deliver an evidence- based trauma treatment to adjudicated youth with PTSD symptoms during residential treatment and therefore decrease their risk of future offending and incarceration

Methods: This study proposes to evaluate two alternative strategies for training therapists to deliver a proven youth trauma treatment, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) to adjudicated youth in ten juvenile justice RTF programs in New England. All RTF programs will receive organizational readiness consisting of 1) novel integrated trauma training for RTF staff (direct care milieu staff, teachers and administrators) about trauma impact and how to support TF-CBT implementation in the RTF; and 2) PTSD assessment training for therapists. Randomization will then occur within each RTF program at the therapist level, to one of two TF-CBT delivery strategies: 1) Web-based TF-CBT Delivery (“W”) in which therapists will receive web-based training and web-based consultation via the TF-CBTWeb and TF-CBTConsult distance learning programs; or 2) W+ Live (“W+L”) in which therapists will receive W+ face-to-face 2-day expert TF-CBT training and ongoing twice monthly expert phone consultation and training to TF-CBT fidelity standards via audiotape rating. The study’s central hypothesis is that W+L will lead to superior outcomes. However, based on cost- effectiveness analyses, W may be acceptable. The study will evaluate the differences in outcomes between the two strategies in terms of the following hypotheses: 1) fidelity: W+L strategy will lead to greater treatment fidelity and to youth receiving greater RTF staff support in TF-CBT delivery than W; several mechanisms are proposed for these differences; 2) improved youth outcomes: W+L will lead to greater improvement in youth PTSD and depressive symptoms than W; and 3) broad and sustained TF-CBT uptake: more youth will receive TF-CBT from W+L than from W therapists; 4) cost effectiveness: W may be acceptable due to cost effectiveness analyses.

Principal Investigator: Judith Cohen (Allegheny General Hospital)

Title: Depressive symptoms in youth heads of household in Rwanda – Correlates and implications for intervention

Authors: Neil Boris, Lisanne Brown, Tonya Thurman, Janet Rice, Leslie Snider, Joseph Ntaganira, Laetitia Nyirazinyoye

Abstract: Objective: To examine the level of depressive symptoms and their predictors in youth from one region of Rwanda who function as heads of household (ie, those responsible for caring for other children) and care for younger orphans. Design: Cross-sectional survey Setting: Four adjoining districts in Gigonkoro, an impoverished rural province in southwestern Rwanda. Participants: Trained interviewers met with the eldest member of each household (n=539) in which a youth 24 years old or younger was caring for 1 child or more. Main Exposure: Serving as a youth head of household. Main Outcome Measures: Rates and severity of depressive symptoms using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale; measures of grief, adult support, social marginalization, and sociodemographic factors using scales developed for this study. Results: Of the 539 youth heads of household, 77% were subsistence farmers and only 7% had attended school for 6 years or more. Almost half (44%) reported eating only 1 meal a day in the last week, and 80% rated their health as fair or poor. The mean score on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale was 24.4, exceeding the most conservative published cutoff score for adolescents. Multivariate analysis revealed that reports of depressive symptoms that exceeded the clinical cutoff were associated with having 3 basic household assets or fewer, such as a mattress and a spare set of clothes (odds ratio [OR], 1.69; 95% confidence inter-vat [CI], 1.06-2.70), eating less than 1 meal per day (OR, 1.68; 95% CI, 1.092.60), reporting fair health (OR, 1.32; 95% CI, 0.762.29) or poor health (OR, 2.33; 95% CI, 1.17-4.64), endorsing high levels of grief (OR, 2.67; 95% CI, 1.734.13), having at least 1 parent die in the genocide as opposed to all other causes of parental death (OR, 1.83; 95% CI, 1.10-3.04), and not having a close friend (OR, 1.91; 95% CI, 1.1.7-3.1.2). There was an interaction between marginalization from the community and alcohol use; youth who were highly marginalized and did not drink alcohol were more than 3 times more likely to report symptoms of depression (OR, 3.07-1 95% CI, 1.73-5.42). When models were constructed by grouping theoretically related variables into blocks and controlling for other blocks, the emotional status block of variables (grief and marginalization) accounted for the most variance in depressive symptoms. Conclusions: Orphaned youth who head households in rural Rwanda face many challenges and report high rates of depressive symptoms. Interventions designed to go beyond improving food security and increasing household assets may be needed to reduce social isolation of youth heads of household. The effect of head-of-household depressive symptoms on other children living in youth-headed households is unknown.

[button link=”http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?volume=162&issue=9&page=836″ color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] View Manuscript Here[/button]