Associations between water insecurity and depression among refugee adolescents and youth in a humanitarian context in Uganda: cross-sectional survey findings

Int Health. 2023 Jul 4;15(4):474-476. doi: 10.1093/inthealth/ihac065.


Background: Water insecurity is linked to poor mental health through intrapersonal, relational and community-based stressors. We examined water insecurity and depression among refugee youth in Bidi Bidi, Uganda.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey and multivariable ordinal logistic regression to examine associations between water insecurity and depression severity, adjusting for gender, resilience, social support and food insecurity.

Results: Among participants (n=115; mean age: 19.7 y, SD 2.3), 80.0% reported water insecurity and 18.3% had moderate/severe depression symptoms. Water insecurity was independently associated with higher levels of depression severity (adjusted OR: 5.61; 95% CI 1.20 to 26.30; p=0.03).

Conclusions: Findings suggest water insecurity was commonplace and associated with depression. Water insecurity could be integrated in refugee mental health promotion by policymakers and community-based programmers.

Keywords: Uganda; depression; refugee; resource scarcity; water insecurity; youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression* / epidemiology
  • Depression* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Refugees*
  • Uganda / epidemiology
  • Water Insecurity
  • Young Adult

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