The impact of school support on depression among adolescent orphans: a cluster-randomized trial in Kenya.
BACKGROUND:The objective of this study was to determine if a school support intervention for adolescent orphans in Kenya had effects on mental health, a secondary outcome. METHODS:In this paper, we analyzed data from a 4-year cluster-randomized trial of a school support intervention (school uniforms, school fees, and nurse visits) conducted with orphaned adolescents in Siaya County, western Kenya, who were about to transition to secondary school. 26 primary schools were randomized (1:1) to intervention (410 students) or control (425 students) arms. The study was longitudinal with annual repeated measures collected over 4 years from 2011 to 2014. We administered five items from the 20-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale Revised, a self-reported depression screening instrument. RESULTS:The intervention prevented depression severity scores from increasing over time among adolescents recruited from intervention schools. There was no evidence of treatment heterogeneity by gender or baseline depression status. The intervention effect on depression was partially mediated by higher levels of continuous school enrollment among the intervention group, but this mediated effect was small. CONCLUSIONS:School support for orphans may help to buffer against the onset or worsening of depression symptoms over time, promoting resilience among an important at-risk population.
Green, EP; Cho, H; Gallis, J; Puffer, ES
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