More than the loss of a parent: Potentially traumatic events among orphaned and abandoned children

Authors

  • Kathryn Whetten,

    Corresponding author
    1. Duke University
    Current affiliation:
    1. Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research and Sanford School of Public Policy, and Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University
    • Duke University, Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research, 2812 Erwin Rd., Suite 403, Durham, NC 27705
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  • Jan Ostermann,

    1. Duke University
    Current affiliation:
    1. Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research, and Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University
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  • Rachel Whetten,

    1. Duke University
    Current affiliation:
    1. Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research, and Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University
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  • Karen O'Donnell,

    1. Duke University
    Current affiliation:
    1. Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research, Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, and Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University
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  • Nathan Thielman,

    1. Duke University
    Current affiliation:
    1. Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research, Department of Medicine, and Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University
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  • The Positive Outcomes for Orphans Research Team

    1. Duke University
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    • In addition to the listed authors, the Positive Outcomes for Orphans Research Team consists of: Chris Bernard Otieno Agala, Frehiwot Alebachew, Sisay Woldeyohannes Ameya, Robin Briggs, Sopheak Chan, Haimanot Diro, Rama Devi Durgam, Belaynesh Engidawork, Dafrosa Itemba, Venkata Gopala Krishna Kaza, Becky Kinoti, Rajeswara Rao Konjarla, Mao Lang, Dean Lewis, Ira Madan, Cyrilla Manya, Restituta Mvungi, Laura Kathleen Murphy-McMillan, Robert Mujera, Kokeb Badma Negatu, Imliyanger Pongen, Pelevinuo Rai, John Shao, Neville Selhore, Amani Sizya, Vanroth Vann, Augustine Wasonga.


  • This work was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), grant No. 5R01HD046345-04. We thank all the children and caregivers who participated in this study. We appreciate the support that has been provided by the partner organizations: KIWAKKUKI in Moshi, Tanzania; ACE Africa in Bungoma, Kenya; SaveLives Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Save the Vulnerables Organization in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Homeland Meahto Phum Ko'Mah in Battambang, Cambodia; and Sahara Centre for Rehabilitation and Residential Care in Delhi, Hyderabad and Nagaland, India. We thank Max Masnick for database and editing support and Anna Both for manuscript preparation.

Abstract

This study examines rates of potentially traumatic events and associated anxiety and emotional/behavioral difficulties among 1,258 orphaned and abandoned children in 5 low- and middle-income countries. The study quantifies the types of events the children experienced and demonstrates that anxiety and emotional/behavioral difficulties increase with additional exposure. As policies for orphaned and abandoned children are being implemented, this study helps policy makers and care providers recognize that (a) children and caregivers are willing to report experiences of potentially traumatic events, (b) those who report such events are at higher risk for experiencing additional events, (c) resulting symptomatology indicates a need for appropriate mental health services, and (d) boys are as vulnerable as girls, indicating an equal need for protection.

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