Applying a Family-Level Economic Strengthening Intervention to Improve Education and Health-Related Outcomes of School-Going AIDS-Orphaned Children: Lessons from a Randomized Experiment in Southern Uganda.
ABSTRACT: Children comprise the largest proportion of the population in sub-Saharan Africa. Of these, millions are orphaned. Orphanhood increases the likelihood of growing up in poverty, dropping out of school, and becoming infected with HIV. Therefore, programs aimed at securing a healthy developmental trajectory for these orphaned children are desperately needed. We conducted a two-arm cluster-randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a family-level economic strengthening intervention with regard to school attendance, school grades, and self-esteem in AIDS-orphaned adolescents aged 12-16 years from 10 public rural primary schools in southern Uganda. Children were randomly assigned to receive usual care (counseling, school uniforms, school lunch, notebooks, and textbooks), "bolstered" with mentorship from a near-peer (control condition, n?=?167), or to receive bolstered usual care plus a family-level economic strengthening intervention in the form of a matched Child Savings Account (Suubi-Maka treatment arm, n?=?179). The two groups did not differ at baseline, but 24 months later, children in the Suubi-Maka treatment arm reported significantly better educational outcomes, lower levels of hopelessness, and higher levels of self-concept compared to participants in the control condition. Our study contributes to the ongoing debate on how to address the developmental impacts of the increasing numbers of orphaned and vulnerable children and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa, especially those affected by HIV/AIDS. Our findings indicate that innovative family-level economic strengthening programs, over and above bolstered usual care that includes psychosocial interventions for young people, may have positive developmental impacts related to education, health, and psychosocial functioning.
Project description:This study examines the impact of a family economic strengthening intervention on parenting stress among caregivers of AIDS-orphaned children in Uganda. The study uses data from a 4-year (2008-2012) NIMH randomized clinical trial for AIDS-orphaned children known as Suubi-Maka (N=346 dyads). Child-caregiver dyads from 10 comparable primary schools were randomly assigned to either the control group (n=167 dyads) receiving usual care for school-going orphaned children (such as food aid and scholastic materials) or the treatment group (n=179 dyads) receiving a family economic strengthening intervention (focused on a matched savings account), financial planning and management workshops over and above the usual care. Interviews were conducted at baseline, 12 months and 24 months follow-up. This study uses data from baseline and 24 months post-intervention. We use multivariate regression methods, controlling for socioeconomic characteristics. At 24 months, caregivers in the treatment group reported significantly lower levels of parenting stress compared to caregivers in the control group. Findings from this study point to the potential of a family economic strengthening intervention to improve caregiver's psychosocial wellbeing and that of their families. We conclude that programs and policies aimed at improving the psychosocial wellbeing of families caring for AIDS-orphaned children may consider incorporating economic strengthening components in their programming to help support these kinds of families, caregivers of AIDS-orphaned children especially those residing in developing countries.
Project description:Improving economic resources of impoverished youth may alter intentions to engage in sexual risk behaviors by motivating positive future planning to avoid HIV risk and by altering economic contexts contributing to HIV risk. Yet, few studies have examined the effect of economic-strengthening on economic and sexual behaviors of orphaned youth, despite high poverty and high HIV infection in this population. Hierarchal longitudinal regressions were used to examine the effect of a savings-led economic empowerment intervention, the Suubi-Maka Project, on changes in orphaned adolescents' cash savings and attitudes toward savings and HIV-preventive practices over time. We randomized 346 Ugandan adolescents, aged 10-17 years, to either the control group receiving usual orphan care plus mentoring (n?=?167) or the intervention group receiving usual orphan care plus mentoring, financial education, and matched savings accounts (n?=?179). Assessments were conducted at baseline, 12, and 24 months. Results indicated that intervention adolescents significantly increased their cash savings over time (b?=?$US12.32, ±1.12, p?<?.001) compared to adolescents in the control group. At 24 months post-baseline, 92% of intervention adolescents had accumulated savings compared to 43% in the control group (p?<?.001). The largest changes in savings goals were the proportion of intervention adolescents valuing saving for money to buy a home (?T1-T0?=?+14.9, p?<?.001), pursue vocational training (?T1-T0?=?+8.8, p?<?.01), and start a business (T1-T0?=?+6.7, p?<?.01). Intervention adolescents also had a significant relative increase over time in HIV-preventive attitudinal scores (b?=?+0.19, ±0.09, p?<?.05), most commonly toward perceived risk of HIV (95.8%, n?=?159), sexual abstinence or postponement (91.6%, n?=?152), and consistent condom use (93.4%, n?=?144). In addition, intervention adolescents had 2.017 significantly greater odds of a maximum HIV-prevention score (OR?=?2.017, 95%CI: 1.43-2.84). To minimize HIV risk throughout the adolescent and young adult periods, long-term strategies are needed to integrate youth economic development, including savings and income generation, with age-appropriate combination prevention interventions.
Project description:In this study, we examined the nonkin support networks of orphaned adolescents participating in a family-based economic-strengthening intervention in HIV-impacted communities in Uganda. We analyzed data from a cluster randomized experimental study for orphaned adolescents aged 11-17 years. Participants were randomly assigned to either the control condition, which received bolstered standard of care (BSOC) services, or the treatment condition, which received BSOC services plus an economic-strengthening intervention. We conducted binary logistic regression analyses to examine the effect of the intervention on participants' nonkin support networks. Results indicated that the existing social support networks for orphaned adolescents are small, limited, and usually comprised individuals with similar socioeconomic situations and challenges. Because orphaned adolescents are socially isolated and the threshold for nonkin supportive services is very low, the BSOC services provided to the control condition appeared to be instrumental in their survival and well-being. Availability of personal savings was associated with higher odds of identifying at least one supportive nonkin tie. The extended family system is still the primary and major source of social support to orphaned children in HIV-affected communities. In the absence of public safety nets, building social assets, over and above offering economic opportunities to extended families supporting orphaned children, is critical.
Project description:Background:Globally, 1.8 million children<15 years are living with HIV. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), as a region, is heavily burdened by HIV, with 90% of new infections among children happening there. Within SSA, Uganda has an HIV prevalence of 7.2% among 15-49-year-olds, with high prevalence in Masaka region (12%). Uganda also reports unprecedented numbers of perinatally HIV-infected children, with close to 150,000 children (ages 0-14) living with HIV (CLHA). However adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) among children and youth is poor, and has been attributed to economic insecurity, including lack of finances for transportation to clinic appointments, inadequate meals to support medication consumption, and resource prioritization towards school expenses. Yet, few programs aimed at addressing ART adherence have applied combination interventions to address economic stability and ART Adherence within the traditional framework of health education and HIV care. This paper describes a study protocol for a 5-year, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) funded, cluster randomized-controlled trial to evaluate a combination intervention, titled Suubi + Adherence, aimed at improving ART adherence among HIV perinatally infected adolescents (ages 10-16 at study enrollment) in Uganda. Methods:Suubi + Adherence was evaluated via a two-arm cluster randomized-controlled trial design in 39 health clinics, with a total enrollment of 702 HIV + adolescents (ages 10-16 at enrollment). The study addresses two primary outcomes: 1) adherence to HIV treatment regimen and 2) HIV knowledge and attitudes. Secondary outcomes include family functioning, sexual risk-taking behavior, and financial savings behavior. For potential scale-up, cost effectiveness analysis was employed to compare the relative costs and outcomes associated with each study arm: family economic strengthening comprising matched savings accounts, financial management training and small business development, all intended for family economic security versus bolstered usual care (SOC) comprising enhanced adherence sessions to ensure more standardized and sufficient adherence counseling. Discussion:This study aims to advance knowledge and inform the development of the next generation of programs aimed at increasing adherence to HIV treatment for HIV + adolescents in low-resource regions such as SSA. To our knowledge, the proposed study is the first to integrate and test family economic empowerment and stability-focused interventions for HIV + adolescents in Uganda (and much of SSA)-so families would have the necessary finances to manage HIV/AIDS as a chronic illness. The study would provide crucial evidence about the effects of an economic empowerment program on short and long-term impact, which is essential if such interventions are to be taken to scale. Trial registration:This trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (registration number: NCT01790373) on 13 February 2013.
Project description:Prior studies demonstrated the effect of family-based economic empowerment intervention Suubi on reducing attitudes approving sexual risk-taking behavior among orphaned adolescents in Uganda. To understand mechanisms of change, the article examines the effect of Suubi intervention on family support variables and their role in mediating the change in adolescents' attitudes toward sexual risk-taking.The Suubi study used a cluster-randomized experimental design with three waves, and included 283 orphaned adolescents from 15 primary schools in Rakai, Uganda. First, using mixed-effects models, the study tested for the effect of intervention on family support variables. Second, using mediation analysis, the study examined whether the change in sexual risk-taking attitudes was mediated by the change in family support.Compared with adolescents from the control group, at wave 2, adolescents in the treatment group reported higher levels of perceived support from caregivers, were more willing to talk to caregivers about their problems, and felt more comfortable talking about sexual risk behaviors with their caregivers. Mediation analysis demonstrated that the improvement in perceived support from caregivers at wave 2 accounted for 16.8% of the reduction in adolescents' attitudes toward sexual risk-taking behavior at wave 3 (z = -2.21, p < .05).A family-based economic empowerment intervention Suubi may have the potential to increase family support to orphaned adolescents. Interventions aimed at strengthening existing social networks and improving connectedness with surviving family members may be critical in preventing sexual risk-taking behavior among orphaned adolescents in Uganda, which is characterized by low resources.
Project description:Some evidence points to the positive effects of asset accumulation programs on mental health of children living in low-resource contexts. However, no evidence exists as to why and how such impact occurs. Our study aims to understand whether child poverty, child work, and household wealth serve as pathways through which the economic strengthening intervention affects the mental health of AIDS-orphaned children. The study employed a cluster-randomized experimental design with a family-based economic strengthening intervention conducted among 1410 school-going AIDS-orphaned children ages 10 and 16 years old in 48 primary schools in South Western Uganda. To test the hypothesized relationships between the intervention, mediators (household wealth, child poverty, and child's work) and mental health, we ran structural equation models that adjust for clustering of individuals within schools and account for potential correlation among the mediators. We found significant unmediated effect of the intervention on children's mental health at 24 months (B?=?-0.59; 95% CI: 0.93, -0.25; p?<?0.001; ??=?-0.33). Furthermore, the results suggest that participation in the intervention reduced child poverty at 12 months, which in turn improved latent mental health outcome at 24 months (B?=?-0.14; 95% CI: -0.29, -0.01; p?<?0.06; ??=?-0.08). In addition, though not statistically significant at the 0.05 level, at 36 and 48 months, mental health of children in the treatment group improved by 0.13 and 0.16 standard deviation points correspondingly with no evidence of mediation. Our findings suggest that anti-poverty programs that aim solely to improve household income may be less advantageous to children's mental health as compared to those that are specifically targeted towards reducing the impact of poverty on children. Further studies using more comprehensive measures of child work and age-appropriate child mental health may shed more light on understanding the link between asset accumulation interventions, child labor and children's mental health.
Project description:This study examines the relationship between economic resources, psychosocial well-being, and educational preferences of AIDS-orphaned children in southern Uganda. We use baseline data from a sample of 1410 AIDS-orphaned children (defined as children who have lost one or both biological parents to AIDS) enrolled in the Bridges to the Future study, a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) funded study. Analyses from both bivariate and multiple regression analyses indicate the following: 1) despite the well-documented economic and psychosocial challenges AIDS-orphaned children face, many of these children have high educational plans and aspirations; 2) educational aspirations differ by orphanhood status (double orphan vs. single orphan); 3) regardless of orphanhood status, children report similar levels of psychosocial well-being; 4) high levels of family cohesion, positive perceptions of the future, school satisfaction, and lower levels of hopelessness (hopefulness) are associated with high educational aspirations; and 5) reported family economic resources at baseline, all seem to play a role in predicting children's educational preferences and psychosocial well-being. These findings suggest that the focus for care and support of orphaned children should not be limited to addressing their psychosocial needs. Addressing the economic needs of the households in which orphaned children live is equally important. Indeed, in the context of extreme poverty-in which most of the children represented in this study live-addressing structural factors, including poverty, may be a key driver in addressing their psychosocial functioning.
Project description:AIDS-orphaned children and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa have inadequate access to basic services, including health and education. Using a qualitative approach, the study explores the meaning of education in rural Uganda, obstacles faced by AIDS-orphaned adolescents and their caregivers to access secondary education, and the potential of an economic empowerment intervention SEED in addressing the challenges of accessing educational opportunities for AIDS-orphaned adolescents. The findings come from 29 semi-structured interviews conducted with eleven adolescents study participants, four caregivers and fourteen community leaders involved in the pilot SEED intervention. Study participants and community members indicated that the savings accounts offer a unique opportunity for orphaned adolescents to stay in school and imagine the future with optimism.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Youth living with HIV (YLHIV) in Sub-Saharan African (SSA) are less likely to adhere to antiretroviral therapy (ART) and other health-related regimens. As a consequence, YLHIV are not only at risk for health problems and mental health comorbidities, but are also at risk for cognitive deficits, including in areas of memory and executive functioning. The Suubi+Adherence study followed 702 adolescents (10-16 years of age) receiving bolstered standard of care and a family economic empowerment intervention comprising an incentivized youth financial savings account (YSA) augmented with financial literacy training (FLT) and peer mentorship. The study findings pointed to superior short-term viral suppression and positive adolescent health and mental health functioning among participants receiving the intervention. The original group of adolescents who received Suubi+Adherence are now transitioning into young adulthood. This paper presents a protocol for the follow-up phase titled Suubi+Adherence Round 2.<h4>Methods</h4>The original cohort in Suubi+Adherence will be tracked for an additional five years (2020-2025). Specifically, the long term follow-up will allow to: 1) ascertain the extent to which the short term outcomes identified in the first 6 years of the intervention are maintained as the same group transitions through young adulthood; and 2) address new scientific questions regarding ART adherence; HIV care engagement; protective health behaviors; and the potential of FEE to mitigate the development of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders in YLHIV. Additionally, the team examines the potential mechanisms through which the observed long-term outcomes happen. Moreover, the Suubi+Adherence-Round 2 adds a qualitative component and extends the cost effectiveness component.<h4>Discussion</h4>Guided by asset and human development theories, Suubi+Adherence-R2 will build on the recently concluded Suubi+Adherence study to conduct one of the largest and longest running studies of YLHIV in SSA as they transition into young adulthood. The study will address new scientific questions regarding long-term ART adherence, HIV care engagement, protective health behaviors, and the potential of FEE to mitigate the development of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders in YLHIV. The findings may inform efforts to improve HIV care among Uganda's YLHIV, with potential replicability in other low-resource countries.<h4>Trial registration</h4>ClinicalTrials.gov , ID: NCT01790373.
Project description:The Scottish Government set out its policy on addressing the poor oral health of Scottish children in 2005. This led to the establishment of Childsmile, a national programme designed to improve the oral health of children in Scotland. One element of the programme promotes daily tooth brushing in all nurseries in Scotland (Childsmile Core). A second targeted component (Childsmile Nursery) offers twice-yearly application of fluoride varnish to children attending nurseries in deprived areas. Studies suggest that fluoride varnish application can reduce caries in both adult and child populations. This trial aims to explore the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of additional preventive value fluoride varnish application compared to Childsmile Core.The Protecting Teeth@3 Study is an ongoing 2 year parallel group randomised treatment as usual controlled trial. Three-year-old children attending the ante pre-school year are randomised (1:1) to the intervention arm (fluoride varnish & treatment as usual) or the control arm (treatment as usual). Children in the intervention arm will have Duraphat® fluoride varnish painted on the primary tooth surfaces and will continue to receive treatment as usual: the core Childsmile Nursery intervention. Children in the treatment as usual arm will receive the same series of contacts, without the application of varnish and will also continue with the Childsmile Core intervention. Interventions are undertaken by Childsmile trained extended duty dental nurses at six-monthly intervals. Participants receive a baseline dental inspection in nursery and an endpoint inspection in Primary 1 at the age of 5 years old. We will use primary and secondary outcome measures to compare the effectiveness of Duraphat® fluoride varnish plus treatment as usual with treatment as usual only in preventing any further dental decay. We will also undertake a full economic evaluation of the trial.This study is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov. Number: NCT01674933 (24 August 2012).