The impact of a comprehensive microfinance intervention on depression levels of AIDS-orphaned children in Uganda

J Adolesc Health. 2012 Apr;50(4):346-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.08.008. Epub 2011 Oct 26.


Purpose: By adversely affecting family functioning and stability, poverty constitutes an important risk factor for children's poor mental health functioning. This study examines the impact of a comprehensive microfinance intervention, designed to reduce the risk of poverty, on depression among AIDS-orphaned youth.

Methods: Children from 15 comparable primary schools in Rakai District of Uganda, one of those hardest hit by HIV/AIDS in the country, were randomly assigned to control (n = 148) or treatment (n = 138) conditions. Children in the treatment condition received a comprehensive microfinance intervention comprising matched savings accounts, financial management workshops, and mentorship. This was in addition to traditional services provided for all school-going orphaned adolescents (counseling and school supplies). Data were collected at wave 1 (baseline), wave 2 (10 months after intervention), and wave 3 (20 months after intervention). We used multilevel growth models to examine the trajectory of depression in treatment and control conditions, measured using Children's Depression Inventory (Kovacs).

Results: Children in the treatment group exhibited a significant decrease in depression, whereas their control group counterparts showed no change in depression.

Conclusions: The findings indicate that over and above traditional psychosocial approaches used to address mental health functioning among orphaned children in sub-Saharan Africa, incorporating poverty alleviation-focused approaches, such as this comprehensive microfinance intervention, has the potential to improve psychosocial functioning of these children.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome*
  • Adolescent
  • Child, Orphaned / education
  • Child, Orphaned / psychology*
  • Child, Orphaned / statistics & numerical data
  • Depression / economics
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Financing, Personal
  • Gift Giving
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentors
  • Poverty / economics
  • Poverty / prevention & control*
  • Poverty / psychology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Uganda / epidemiology