Promoting Inclusive Markets and Financial Systems
Family Economic Empowerment and Mental Health Among AIDS-Affected Children Living in AIDS-Impacted Communities: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Southwestern Uganda
OBJECTIVE: The authors examine whether an innovative family economic empowerment intervention addresses mental health functioning of AIDS-affected children in communities heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS in Uganda.
METHODS: A cluster randomised controlled trial consisting of two study arms, a treatment condition (n=179) and a control condition (n=118), was used to examine the impact of the family economic empowerment intervention on children's levels of hopelessness and depression. The intervention comprised matched children savings accounts, financial management workshops and mentorship. Data were collected at baseline and 12 months post-intervention.
RESULTS: Using multivariate analysis with several socioeconomic controls, the authors find that children in the treatment condition (receiving the intervention) report significant improvement in their mental health functioning. Specifically, the intervention reduces hopelessness and depression levels. On the other hand, children in the control condition (not receiving the intervention) report no changes on both measures.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings indicate that children with poor mental health functioning living in communities affected by HIV/AIDS may benefit from innovative family economic empowerment interventions. As measures of mental health functioning, both hopelessness and depression have long-term negative psychosocial and developmental impacts on children. These findings have implications for public health programmes intended for long-term care and support of children living in resource poor AIDS-impacted communities.