The psychological functioning and experiences following placement in orphanages : an exploratory study of orphanhood in Accra, Ghana

Salifu Yendork, Joana (2014-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Parental loss and orphanage placement can be stressful and can negatively influence the well-being of children. However, few studies have been conducted on the psychological well-being of Ghanaian orphans placed in orphanages. As a result, the impact of orphanage placement following parental loss in Ghana is not well understood. The present study aimed to explore the psychological functioning and experiences of orphaned children placed in orphanages in comparison to non-orphaned children in Accra, Ghana. A mixed-method design with elements of both quantitative and qualitative approaches was used. For quantitative data, questionnaires were used to source information pertaining to quality of life, stress (symptoms of depression and anxiety), problems experienced during the month, coping strategies, perceived social support, perceived self-efficacy and resilience. For qualitative data, follow-up interviews with selected orphaned participants were used to delve into participants’ experiences of placement in an orphanage. Purposive sampling was used to select participants who were aged between seven and 17 years. The sample comprised 100 orphaned children, placed in four orphanages, and 100 non-orphans sampled from two public schools in Accra. The quantitative data were analysed using the t-test, the chi-square test, Pearson product-moment correlation analyses, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and regression analyses. The qualitative data were analysed through content and thematic analyses. The results revealed that orphaned children showed more anxiety symptoms than non-orphans but both groups of children presented with high levels of depressive symptoms. The predominant problems for both groups of children were problems with school and relationship problems with peers and caregivers. However, for orphaned children, relationship problems with peers were commonly cited whereas for non-orphans, problems cited were relationship difficulties with caregivers. Despite the heightened emotional distress, orphaned children reported high levels of self-efficacy and resilience as well as stronger perceptions of available support from friends than non-orphans. Non-orphaned children perceived significantly stronger support from families than orphaned children. Regression analyses also revealed that for orphaned children, anxiety and support-seeking coping emerged as significant predictors of qualify of life whereas depression emerged as a significant predictor of quality of life for non-orphaned children. Self-efficacy emerged as a significant positive predictor of resilience for orphaned children whereas self-efficacy and perceived social support emerged as significant positive predictors of resilience for non-orphans. The results of the thematic analyses of the follow-up interviews with selected orphans also revealed that orphanage placement evoked both negative and positive experiences. While orphanages provided structure, nurturance, a safe home environment and avenues for positive peer relationships that engendered a sense of belonging, they were also associated with financial constraints and relationship problems with peers and caregivers. In addition, the Christian-religious orientation of the orphaned children appeared to foster orphans’ well-being. The present study provided evidence that both the orphaned and non-orphaned children were vulnerable to psychological distress. Therefore, interventions should be effected to both groups of children. Furthermore, the study showed that orphanages provided sanctuary and nurturance to orphans who lack parental care and could be considered as a viable form of orphan care in Ghana.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Ouerverlies en weeshuisplasing veroorsaak stres en kan die welstand van kinders negatief beïnvloed. Min navorsingstudies is egter gedoen oor die psigologiese welstand van Ghanese weeskinders wat in weeshuise geplaas word. Die gevolg is dat die impak van weeshuisplasing ná ouerverlies nie goed in Ghana verstaan word nie. Die studie is daarop gemik om die psigologiese funksionering en ervarings van kinders wat ouerloos gelaat en in weeshuise in Accra, Ghana, geplaas word, te ondersoek en dit met dié van nieweesgelate kinders te vergelyk. ’n Gemengdemetode-ontwerp met elemente van beide kwantitatiewe en kwalitatiewe benaderings is gebruik. Vraelyste is vir die kwantitatiewe data gebruik ten einde inligting te bekom oor lewenskwaliteit, stres (simptome van depressie en angs), daaglikse streswekkers of stressors, behartigingstrategieë, waargenome sosiale steun, waargenome selfbedrewendheid en veerkrag. Vir die kwalitatiewe data is opvolgonderhoude met geselekteerde weesgelate deelnemers gevoer ten einde die deelnemers se geleefde ervarings van plasing in ’n weeshuis indringend te bekyk. Doelgerigte steekproefneming is gebruik om deelnemers tussen die ouderdom van sewe en 17 jaar oud te selekteer. Die steekproef het bestaan uit 100 weesgelate kinders wat in vier weeshuise geplaas is, en 100 nieweesgelate kinders wat as steekproef uit twee openbare skole in Accra geneem is. Die kwantitatiewe data is ontleed met gebruikmaking van die t-toets, die chi-kwadraattoets, Pearson-produkmomentkorrelasieontledings, asook eenrigting-variansie- (VARO) en regressieontledings. Die kwalitatiewe data is aan die hand van inhouds- en tematiese ontledings geanaliseer. Volgens die resultate toon weesgelate kinders meer angssimptome as nieweesgelate kinders, terwyl beide groepe kinders met hoë vlakke van depressiewe simptome presenteer. Die oorheersende daaglikse stressors by beide groepe kinders is probleme by die skool, asook verhoudingsprobleme met die portuurgroep en sorggewers. Wat die weesgelate kinders betref, word verhoudingsprobleme met die portuurgroep egter as die mees algemene probleme aangevoer, terwyl nieweesgelate kinders verhoudingsprobleme met sorggewers aandui. Afgesien van die verhoogde emosionele nood, toon weesgelate kinders hoë vlakke van selfbedrewendheid en veerkrag, asook sterker persepsies van beskikbare bystand deur vriende, as wat die geval is by nieweesgelate kinders. Nieweesgelate kinders neem beduidend sterker bystand van families waar as wat die geval is by weesgelate kinders. Regressieontledings dui ook aan dat angs en bystandsoekende behartigingsgedrag by weesgelate kinders as beduidende voorspellers van lewensgehalte presenteer, terwyl depressie as ’n beduidende voorspeller van lewensgehalte by nieweesgelate kinders presenteer. Selfbedrewendheid presenteer as ’n beduidende positiewe voorspeller van veerkrag by weesgelate kinders, terwyl selfbedrewendheid en waargenome sosiale bystand as beduidende positiewe voorspellers vir veerkrag, by nieweesgelate kinders presenteer. Volgens die resultate van die tematiese ontledings van opvolgonderhoude met geselekteerde weeskinders, ontlok weeshuisplasing beide negatiewe en positiewe ervarings. Weeshuise skep struktuur, koestering, ’n veilige tuisomgewing en kanale vir positiewe portuurgroepverhoudings, en gevolglik ’n gevoel van samehorigheid, ofskoon hierdie instansies ook met finansiële beperkings en verhoudingsprobleme met portuurgroepe en versorgers verbind word. Verder blyk dit dat die Christengeloof-oriëntasie van die weesgelate kinders die welstand van die weeskinders bevorder. Die aangebode studie lewer bewys dat sowel die weesgelate as die nieweesgelate kinders kwesbaar is vir psigologiese nood. Gevolglik word intervensies vir beide groepe kinders aangedui. Die studie toon verder dat weeshuise ’n toevlugsoord en versorgingsplek bied vir weeskinders wat nie ouerlike sorg ontvang nie, en dat dit as ’n lewensvatbare vorm van weeskindsorg in Ghana beskou kan word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96074
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