Ethiopian Journal of Health Development

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Psychological distress and its predictors in AIDS orphan adolescents in Addis Ababa city: A comparative survey

H Getachew, F Ambaw, L Abebe, W Kasahun


Back ground: In developing countries the number of children orphaned by AIDS is growing rapidly. Consequently, the psychological well-being of these children has become a serious concern.
Objectives: To assess the psychological distress of AIDS orphans as compared to non-AIDS orphan adolescents and factors related to it, in Addis Ababa.
Methods: Comparative cross-sectional design combining both quantitative and qualitative methods was used. An equal number of 438 subjects were included in this study with each group of AIDS and non-AIDS orphan adolescents between 11-18 age groups. Structured interviewer administered questionnaire and scales including HAD, Rosenberg’s and MPSS scales were used to measure the orphans’ level of depression, anxiety, self-esteem and their perceived social support.
Result: Among the study participants, 279 (34.7%) orphan adolescents where 157 (39.1%) of AIDS and 122 (30.3 %) of non-AIDS orphan adolescents were depressed in the week before the survey. Moreover, 301(37.4%) orphan adolescents where 164 (40.8%) of AIDS and 137 (34.1%) of non-AID once were anxious. However, the difference observed in depression and anxiety [OR (95% CI) =1.164(0.733, 1.754) & 0.88(0.57, 1.33)] was not statistically significant. The main predicator variables of depression and anxiety in both study groups were their perceived social support and self-esteem. Factors such as discrimination, school enrollment, physical abuse, child labor were also identified as predicators.
Conclusion : A large proportion of orphan adolescents are having psychological problems that can affect their present and future life. Thus, a more focused and concerted effort is needed to improve their mental health. [Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2011;25(2):135-142]

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