Psychotic-like experiences and adverse life events in young people. Does gender matter?
BACKGROUND:Psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) and adverse life events (ALEs) are highly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa where gendered practices are also common. There is, however, a paucity of data on how the relationship between PLEs and life adversities is influenced by gender. The current study addressed this gap. METHOD/METHODS:Data were collected from 1886 school-based young people (1174 females) in Ghana, West Africa using a cross-sectional survey methodology and analyzed using Chi-square, independent t-test, Pearson correlation, and multivariate regression. RESULTS:The results showed that victimization experiences, school stress and having a family member with mental illness were significantly associated with PLEs in both males and females. In contrast, substance misuse and experiences of head trauma correlated significantly with PLEs in females only. CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:Life adversities constitute major risk factors for PLEs among school-based young people in Ghana, who could benefit from gender neutral and gender-sensitive intervention programming to remediate the effects of life adversities on PLEs.
The Post-intervention Impact of Amaka Amasanyufu on Behavioral and Mental Health Functioning of Children and Adolescents in Low-Resource Communities in Uganda: Analysis of a Cluster-Randomized Trial From the SMART Africa-Uganda Study (2016-2022)
PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE:Disruptive behavioral disorders (DBDs) are common among children/adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. A 16-week manualized multiple family group (MFG) intervention called Amaka Amasanyufu designed to reduce DBDs among school-going children/adolescents in low-resource communities in Uganda was efficacious in reducing symptoms of poor mental health relative to usual care in the short-term (4 months post-intervention-initiation). We examined whether intervention effects are sustained 6 months postintervention. METHODS:We used longitudinal data from 636 children positive for DBDs: (1) Control condition, 10 schools, n = 243; (2) MFG delivered via parent peers (MFG-PP), eight schools, n = 194 and; (3) MFG delivered via community healthcare workers (MFG-CHW), eight schools, n = 199 from the SMART Africa-Uganda study (2016-2022). All participants were blinded. We estimated three-level linear mixed-effects models and pairwise comparisons at 6 months postintervention and time-within-group effects to evaluate the impact on Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), impaired functioning, depressive symptoms, and self-concept. RESULTS:At 6 months postintervention, children in MFG-PP and MFG-CHW groups had significantly lower means for ODD (mean difference [MD] = -1.08 and -1.35) impaired functioning (MD = -1.19 and -1.16), and depressive symptoms (MD = -1.06 and -0.83), than controls and higher means for self-concept (MD = 3.81 and 5.14). Most outcomes improved at 6 months compared to baseline. There were no differences between the two intervention groups. DISCUSSION/CONCLUSIONS:The Amaka Amasanyufu intervention had sustained effects in reducing ODD, impaired functioning, and depressive symptoms and improving self-concept relative to usual care at 6 months postintervention. Our findings strengthen the evidence that the intervention effectively reduces DBDs and impaired functioning among young people in resource-limited settings and was sustained over time.
Psychotic-like experiences and adverse life events in young people. Does gender matter?
Background: Psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) and adverse life events (ALEs) are highly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa where gendered practices are also common. There is, however, a paucity of data on how the relationship between PLEs and life adversities is influenced by gender. The current study addressed this gap. Method: Data were collected from 1886 school-based young people (1174 females) in Ghana, West Africa using a cross-sectional survey methodology and analyzed using Chi-square, independent t-test, Pearson correlation, and multivariate regression. Results: The results showed that victimization experiences, school stress and having a family member with mental illness were significantly associated with PLEs in both males and females. In contrast, substance misuse and experiences of head trauma correlated significantly with PLEs in females only. Conclusion: Life adversities constitute major risk factors for PLEs among school-based young people in Ghana, who could benefit from gender neutral and gender-sensitive intervention programming to remediate the effects of life adversities on PLEs.
Understanding depression treatment and perinatal service preferences of Kenyan pregnant adolescents: A discrete choice experiment
BACKGROUND:Understanding mental health treatment preferences of adolescents and youth is particularly important for interventions to be acceptable and successful. Person-centered care mandates empowering individuals to take charge of their own health rather than being passive recipients of services. METHODS:We conducted a discrete choice experiment to quantitatively measure adolescent treatment preferences for different care characteristics and explore tradeoffs between these. A total of 153 pregnant adolescents were recruited from two primary healthcare facilities in the informal urban settlement of Nairobi. We selected eight attributes of depression treatment option models drawn from literature review and previous qualitative work. Bayesian d-efficient design was used to identify main effects. A total of ten choice tasks were solicited per respondent. We evaluated mean preferences using mixed logit models to adjust for within subject correlation and account for unobserved heterogeneity. RESULTS:Respondents showed a positive preference that caregivers be provided with information sheets, as opposed to co-participation with caregivers. With regards to treatment options, the respondents showed a positive preference for 8 sessions as compared to 4 sessions. With regards to intervention delivery agents, the respondents had a positive preference for facility nurses as compared to community health volunteers. In terms of support, the respondents showed positive preference for parenting skills as compared to peer support. Our respondents expressed negative preferences of ANC service combined with older mothers as compared to adolescent friendly services and of being offered refreshments alone. A positive preference was revealed for combined refreshments and travel allowance over travel allowance or refreshments alone. A number of these suggestions were about enhancing their experience of maternity clinical care experience. CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:This study highlights unique needs of this population. Pregnant adolescents' value responsive maternity and depression care services offered by nurses. Participants shared preference for longer psychotherapy sessions and their preference was to have adolescent centered maternal mental health and child health services within primary care.
Applied machine learning to identify differential risk groups underlying externalizing and internalizing problem behaviors trajectories: A case study using a cohort of Asian American children
BACKGROUND:Internalizing and externalizing problems account for over 75% of the mental health burden in children and adolescents in the US, with higher burden among minority children. While complex interactions of multilevel factors are associated with these outcomes and may enable early identification of children in higher risk, prior research has been limited by data and application of traditional analysis methods. In this case example focused on Asian American children, we address the gap by applying data-driven statistical and machine learning methods to study clusters of mental health trajectories among children, investigate optimal predictions of children at high-risk cluster, and identify key early predictors. METHODS:Data from the US Early Childhood Longitudinal Study 2010-2011 were used. Multilevel information provided by children, families, teachers, schools, and care-providers were considered as predictors. Unsupervised machine learning algorithm was applied to identify groups of internalizing and externalizing problems trajectories. For prediction of high-risk group, ensemble algorithm, Superlearner, was implemented by combining several supervised machine learning algorithms. Performance of Superlearner and candidate algorithms, including logistic regression, was assessed using discrimination and calibration metrics via crossvalidation. Variable importance measures along with partial dependence plots were utilized to rank and visualize key predictors. FINDINGS/RESULTS:We found two clusters suggesting high- and low-risk groups for both externalizing and internalizing problems trajectories. While Superlearner had overall best discrimination performance, logistic regression had comparable performance for externalizing problems but worse for internalizing problems. Predictions from logistic regression were not well calibrated compared to those from Superlearner, however they were still better than few candidate algorithms. Important predictors identified were combination of test scores, child factors, teacher rated scores, and contextual factors, which showed non-linear associations with predicted probabilities. CONCLUSIONS:We demonstrated the application of data-driven analytical approach to predict mental health outcomes among Asian American children. Findings from the cluster analysis can inform critical age for early intervention, while prediction analysis has potential to inform intervention programing prioritization decisions. However, to better understand external validity, replicability, and value of machine learning in broader mental health research, more studies applying similar analytical approach is needed.
Applying technology to promote sexual and reproductive health and prevent gender based violence for adolescents in low and middle-income countries: digital health strategies synthesis from an umbrella review
AIM/OBJECTIVE:Adolescents in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) are facing numerous developmental, sexual and reproductive health (SRH) challenges including exposure to multidimensional violence. Gender-based violence (GBV) specifically intimate partner violence (IPV) are both highly prevalent in LMICs and are strongly linked with poor SRH outcomes. However, GBV and IPV interventions have not yet been adequately integrated in SRH due to individual, social, cultural, service, and resource barriers. To promote long-term SRH, a more holistic approach that integrates GBV and IPV, and adolescent development needs is imperative. Digital health has the potential to address multiple service setup, provision, and addressing access barriers through designing and providing integrated SRH care. However, there are no guidelines for an integrated digital SRH and development promotion for adolescents in LMICs. METHODS:An umbrella review was conducted to synthesize evidence in three inter-related areas of digital health intervention literature: (i) SRH, (ii) GBV specifically IPV as a subset, and (iii) adolescent development and health promotion. We first synthesize findings for each area of research, then further analyze the implications and opportunities to inform approaches to develop an integrated intervention that can holistically address multiple SRH needs of adolescents in LMICs. Articles published in English, between 2010 and 2020, and from PubMed were included. RESULTS:Seventeen review articles met our review inclusion criterion. Our primary finding is that application of digital health strategies for adolescent SRH promotion is highly feasible and acceptable. Although effectiveness evidence is insufficient to make strong recommendations for interventions and best practices suggestions, some user-centered design guidelines have been proposed for web-based health information and health application design for adolescent use. Additionally, several digital health strategies have also been identified that can be used to further develop integrated GBV-IPV-SRH-informed services to improve adolescent health outcomes. We generated several recommendations and strategies to guide future digital based SRH promotion research from our review. CONCLUSIONS:Rigorous research that focuses on intervention effectiveness testing using a combination of digital health strategies and standardized albeit contextualized outcome measures would be important. Methodological improvement such as adoption of longitudinal experimental design will be crucial in generating evidence-based intervention and practice guidelines for adolescents in LMICs.
The longitudinal impact of an evidence-based multiple family group intervention (Amaka Amasanyufu) on oppositional defiant disorder and impaired functioning among children in Uganda: analysis of a cluster randomized trial from the SMART Africa-Uganda scale-up study (2016-2022)
BACKGROUND:Oppositional Defiant Disorders (ODDs) and other Disruptive Behavior Disorders (DBDs) are common among children and adolescents in poverty-impacted communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Without early intervention, its progression into adulthood can result in dire consequences. We examined the impact of a manualized family strengthening intervention called Amaka Amasanyufu designed to reduce ODDs and other DBDs among school-going children residing in low-resource communities in Uganda. METHODS:We used longitudinal data from the SMART Africa-Uganda study (2016-2022). Public primary schools were randomized to: (1) Control condition (receiving usual care comprising generalized psychosocial functioning literature), 10 schools; (2) intervention delivered via parent peers (Amaka-parents), 8 schools or; (3) intervention delivered via community healthcare workers (Amaka-community), 8 schools. All the participants were blinded. At baseline, 8- and 16-weeks postintervention initiation, caregivers completed the Iowa Conners Scale, which measured Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Impairment Rating Scale to evaluate children's overall impairment and impaired functioning with peers, siblings, and parents; impaired academic progress, self-esteem, and family functioning. Three-level linear mixed-effects models were fitted to each outcome. Pairwise comparisons of postbaseline group means within each time point were performed using Sidak's adjustment for multiple comparisons. Only children positive for ODD and other DBDs were analyzed. RESULTS:Six hundred and thirty-six children screened positive for ODDs and other DBDs (Controls: nâ€‰=â€‰243; Amaka-parents: nâ€‰=â€‰194; Amaka-community: nâ€‰=â€‰199). At 8â€‰weeks, Amaka-parents' children had significantly lower mean scores for overall impairment compared to controls, (mean difference: -0.71, pâ€‰=â€‰.001), while Amaka-community children performed better on ODD (mean difference: -0.84, pâ€‰=â€‰.016). At 16â€‰weeks, children in both groups were performing better on ODD and IRS than controls, and there were no significant differences between the two intervention groups. CONCLUSIONS:The Amaka Amasanyufu intervention was efficacious in reducing ODD and impaired functioning relative to usual care. Hence, the Amaka Amasanyufu intervention delivered either by Amaka-community or Amaka-parents has the potential to reduce negative behavioral health outcomes among young people in resource-limited settings and improve family functioning. TRIAL REGISTRATION/BACKGROUND:ClinicalTrials.gov, ID: NCT03081195. Registered on 16 March 2017.
Street Children in Ghana's Golden Triangle Cities: Mental Health Needs and Associated Risks
More than 61,000 persons below the age of 18 are living onÂ the streets in the Greater Accra region in Ghana. Street children is a hidden vulnerable population and a global public health issue in the world, but little is known about their mental health and health needs, and mechanisms that contribute to their poor health. With a lack of mental health research to guide intervention or psychoeducation programme and policy planning, this study aimed to address these research gaps by examining prevalence of mental health problems and a set of associated risk factors (i.e. Perceived quality of life, and social connection). In addition, we examined whether the associations between risk factors and mental health problems were moderated by demographic and contextual factors (i.e., gender, age, work status, reason for living on street, number of years in street). Two hundred and seven children between age 12 and 18 who lived on the street in three cities (Accra, Sekondi Takoradi, and Kumasi) were recruited. Data were gathered through adolescent survey/interviews. Multiple regression was utilized to examine risk factors and moderation effects. Results support high mental health needs among street children. Approximately 73% street children experienced moderate to severe mental health problems, and 90% experienced poor quality of life. Perceived quality/happiness of life was the strongest predictor for street children's mental health. Social connection was associated with children's mental health only in certain subgroups and contexts. This study adds new epidemiological evidence for street children, an extremely vulnerable population, in Ghana and global child and adolescent mental health.
What should equity in global health research look like?
Advancing scalability and impacts of a teacher training program for promoting child mental health in Ugandan primary schools: protocol for a hybrid-type II effectiveness-implementation cluster randomized trial
BACKGROUND:Children in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) are facing tremendous mental health challenges. Numerous evidence-based interventions (EBIs) have been adapted to LMICs and shown effectiveness in addressing the needs, but most EBIs have not been adopted widely using scalable and sustainable implementation models that leverage and strengthen existing structures. There is a need to apply implementation science methodology to study strategies to effectively scale-up EBIs and sustain the practices in LMICs. Through a cross-sector collaboration, we are carrying out a second-generation investigation of implementation and effectiveness of a school-based mental health EBI, ParentCorps Professional Development (PD), to scale-up and sustain the EBI in Uganda to promote early childhood students' mental health. Our previous studies in Uganda supported that culturally adapted PD resulted in short-term benefits for classrooms, children, and families. However, our previous implementation of PD was relied on mental health professionals (MHPs) to provide PD to teachers. Because of the shortage of MHPs in Uganda, a new scalable implementation model is needed to provide PD at scale. OBJECTIVES/OBJECTIVE:This study tests a new scalable and sustainable PD implementation model and simultaneously studies the effectiveness. This paper describes use of collaboration, task-shifting, and Train-the-Trainer strategies for scaling-up PD, and protocol for studying the effectiveness-implementation of ParentCorps-PD for teachers in urban and rural Ugandan schools. We will examine whether the new scale-up implementation approach will yield anticipated impacts and investigate the underlying effectiveness-implementation mechanisms that contribute to success. In addition, considering the effects of PD on teachers and students will influence by teacher wellness. This study also examines the added value (i.e. impact and costs) of a brief wellness intervention for teachers and students. METHODS:Using a hybrid-type II effectiveness-implementation cluster randomized controlled trial (cRCT), we will randomize 36 schools (18 urban and 18 rural) with 540 teachers and nearly 2000 families to one of three conditions: PDâ€‰+â€‰Teacher-Wellness (PDT), PD alone (PD), and Control. Primary effectiveness outcomes are teachers' use of mental health promoting strategies, teacher stress management, and child mental health. The implementation fidelity/quality for the scale-up model will be monitored. Mixed methods will be employed to examine underlying mechanisms of implementation and impact as well as cost-effectiveness. DISCUSSION/CONCLUSIONS:This research will generate important knowledge regarding the value of an EBI in urban and rural communities in a LMIC, and efforts toward supporting teachers to prevent and manage early signs of children's mental health issues as a potentially cost-effective strategy to promote child population mental health in low resource settings. TRIAL REGISTRATION/BACKGROUND:This trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (registration number: NCT04383327; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04383327 ) on May13, 2020.