African Journal of Psychiatry

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Understanding cohort differences in appraisals of reconstruction priorities of mental health systems in postconflict Liberia

DA Gray, CPC Borba, BL Harris, S Domínguez, R Boxill, EKS Wang, DC Henderson


Objective: This study analyzes the relationship between informants’ age and their assessment of mental health needs in postconflict society and examines if mental health needs assessment priorities differ depending upon whether or not the informant was exposed to the Liberian civil war.
Method: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in March 2009 to obtain data on mental health needs of Liberian children, adolescents and young adults. A total of 171 individuals were interviewed. The data were analyzed using a two- way ANOVA.
Results: Elder respondents expressed a preference for young adults to receive services in a church/mosque (F = 4.020, p < .05); for adolescents in volunteer programs (F = 3.987, p < .05) and for children in sports programs (F = 4.396, p < .05). Experiencing conflict did exert some influence on treatment setting preferences. Those who resided outside Liberia during the conflict cited a preference for traditional healers and medical clinics. However, this preference was for the children and young adult age categories. Those who experienced the civil war reported significantly higher preferences for adolescent services to be located in medical clinics, with traditional healers, and in churches/mosques.
Conclusion: This study provides additional support for the premise that the utilization of psychiatric services needs to be viewed from the perspective of Liberians and that there are differences in preferences across groups. Our results suggest that service providers and policy makers take into account the age of the patient when deciding where to locate treatment settings for the population.

Keywords: Mental Health; Liberia; Treatment Settings; Elders; Needs Assessment

African Journal of Psychiatry • November 2013, 16(6)
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