Research Articles (Institute for Life Course Health Research)

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Now showing 1 - 5 of 16
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    Balancing roles and blurring boundaries : community health workers’ experiences of navigating the crossroads between personal and professional life in rural South Africa
    (Wiley, 2020-09) Laurenzi, Christina A.; Skeen, Sarah; Rabie, Stephan; Coetzee, Bronwyne J.; Notholi, Vuyolwethu; Bishop, Julia; Chademana, Emma; Tomlinson, Mark
    As demand for health services grows, task-shifting to lay health workers has become an attractive solution to address shortages in human resources. Community health workers (CHWs), particularly in low-resource settings, play critical roles in promoting equitable healthcare among underserved populations. However, CHWs often shoulder additional burdens as members of the same communities in which they work. We examined the experiences of a group of CHWs called Mentor Mothers (MMs) working in a maternal and child health programme, navigating the crossroads between personal and professional life in the rural Eastern Cape, South Africa. Semi-structured qualitative interviews (n = 10) were conducted by an experienced isiXhosa research assistant, asking MMs questions about their experiences working in their own communities, and documenting benefits and challenges. Interviews were transcribed and translated into English and thematically coded. Emergent themes include balancing roles (positive, affirming aspects of the role) and blurring boundaries (challenges navigating between professional and personal obligations). While many MMs described empowering clients to seek care and drawing strength from being seen as a respected health worker, others spoke about difficulties in adequately addressing clients’ needs, and additional burdens they adopted in their personal lives related to the role. We discuss the implications of these findings, on an immediate level (equipping CHWs with self-care and boundary-setting skills), and an intermediate level (introducing opportunities for structured debriefings and emphasising supportive supervision). We also argue that, at a conceptual level, CHW programmes should provide avenues for professionalisation and invest more up-front in their workforce selection, training and support.
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    Adolescent mothers affected by HIV and their children : a scoping review of evidence and experiences from sub-Saharan Africa
    (Taylor & Francis, 2020-06-06) Toska, Elona; Laurenzi, Christina A.; Roberts, Kathryn J.; Cluver, Lucie; Sherr, Lorraine
    While adolescents have received increasing attention in the global HIV response and international strategies and commitments, adolescent mothers and their children remain largely overlooked in research, funding and, programming for health-related outcomes. We conducted an extensive scoping review of current evidence on the experiences of adolescent mothers affected by HIV and their children in this region. We included published literature and conference abstracts, complemented by consultations with key stakeholders, and a review of documents through grey literature searching. First, we summarise the experiences of adolescent mothers and their children related to HIV and key health and development indicators. The syndemic of early motherhood and HIV in sub-Saharan Africa increases the vulnerability of adolescent mothers and their children. We then highlight lessons from a series of promising programmes focused on supporting adolescent mothers through novel approaches. In sub-Saharan Africa, supporting adolescent mothers living in high HIV-risk communities is critical not only to eliminate HIV/AIDS, but also to attain the Sustainable Development Goals. While research on and programming for adolescent mothers and their children is growing, the complex needs for this vulnerable group remain unmet. We conclude with evidence gaps and programming priorities for adolescent mothers affected by HIV and their children.
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    The food of life : an evaluation of the impact of cash grant receipt and good parenting on child nutrition outcomes in South Africa and Malawi
    (SAGE Publications, 2020-09) Sherr, Lorraine; Roberts, Kathryn J.; Mebrahtu, Helen; Tomlinson, Mark; Skeen, Sarah; Cluver, Lucie D.
    Social protection interventions (inclusive of cash grant receipt and care provision) have been found to be effective in response to some of the negative implications of the HIV epidemic on children and families. This study explores the impact of cash grant receipt and care provision (operationalised as good parenting) on child nutritional outcomes. In this cross-sectional study, 854 children and younger adolescents (5–15 years) and caregivers affected by HIV, attending community-based organisations in South Africa and Malawi, were interviewed. Interviews comprised inventories on socio-demographic information, family data, cash grant receipt and child nutrition. Parenting was measured using a composite scale. Logistic regression and marginal effects analyses were used to explore the associations between differing levels of social protection (none; either cash or good parenting; cash and good parenting) and child nutritional outcomes. One hundred and sixty children (20.3%) received neither cash nor good parenting; 501 (63.5%) received either cash or good parenting and 128 (16.2%) received both cash and good parenting. In comparison to no intervention, receipt of either cash or good parenting was significantly associated with child non-stunting, the child having sufficient food, and the child not looking thin. Three (3/7) nutritional outcomes showed increased improvement amongst children receiving both cash and good parenting care including child-reported non-hunger, child non-stunting and parental report of sufficient food. Marginal effects analyses further identified an additive effect of cash and good parenting on child nutritional outcomes. This study indicates that receipt of combined cash and good parenting, when compared to cash grant receipt alone, has positive effects on nutrition-related child outcomes.
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    Depressive symptoms among children attending community based support in South Africa - pathways for disrupting risk factors
    (SAGE Publications, 2020-06) Sherr, Lorraine; Yakubovich, Alexa R.; Skeen, Sarah; Tomlinson, Mark, (Mark R.); Cluver, Lucie D.; Roberts, Kathryn J.; Macedo, Ana
    Children in Southern Africa are exposed to high rates of structural and family adversities. This study tests whether services from Community Based Organisations (CBOs) in South Africa can promote children's resilience against depression exposed to such adversities. Two linked longitudinal studies were conducted, comprising n = 1848 children aged 9 to 13 years. One group received CBO services, whilst the other (quasi-control) did not. Analyses used interaction terms in regression models to test for potential moderation effects of CBO attendance, and marginal effects models to interpret significant interactions. Two interaction effects were shown, demonstrating moderation effects of CBO attendance on common structural disadvantages. First, children exposed to community violence showed increased depression (contrast = 0.62 [95%CI 0.43, 0.82], p < .001), but this association was removed by CBO access (contrast = 0.07 [95%CI -0.28, 0.43], p = .682). Second, children living in informal housing showed increased depression (contrast = 0.63 [95%CI 0.42, 0.85], p < .001), however, this association was removed by CBO access (contrast = 0.01 [95%CI -0.55, 0.56], p = .977). CBO attendance is associated with fewer depressive symptoms, and can buffer against important structural adversities of poor housing and violence that are common in high HIV-prevalence areas. However, CBO attendance was not able to remove the increased psychosocial distress associated with some family-level vulnerabilities such as orphanhood and abuse. These findings highlight the centrality of CBO-provided psychosocial support for children in Southern Africa, and suggest areas for bolstering provision.
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    Evidence for better lives study : a comparative birth-cohort study on child exposure to violence and other adversities in eight low- and middle-income countries - foundational research (study protocol)
    (BMJ Publishing, 2020-10) Valdebenito, Sara; Murray, Aja; Hughes, Claire; Băban, Adriana; Fernando, Asvini D.; Madrid, Bernadette J.; Ward, Catherine; Osafo, Joseph; Dunne, Michael; Sikander, Siham; Walker, Susan P.; Van Thang, Vo; Tomlinson, Mark; Fearon, Pasco; Shenderovich, Yulia; Marlow, Marguerite; Chathurika, Deshanie; Taut, Diana; Eisner, Manuel
    Introduction: Violence against children is a health, human rights and social problem affecting approximately half of the world’s children. Its effects begin at prenatal stages with long-lasting impacts on later health and well-being. The Evidence for Better Lives Study (EBLS) aims to produce high-quality longitudinal data from cities in eight low- and middle-income countries—Ghana, Jamaica, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Vietnam—to support effective intervention to reduce violence against children. EBLS-Foundational Research (EBLS-FR) tests critical aspects of the planned EBLS, including participant recruitment and retention, data collection and analysis. Alongside epidemiological estimates of levels and predictors of exposure to violence and adversity during pregnancy, we plan to explore mechanisms that may link exposure to violence to mothers’ biological stress markers and subjective well-being. Methods: and analyses EBLS-FR is a short longitudinal study with a sample of 1200 pregnant women. Data are collected during the last trimester of pregnancy and 2 to 6 months after birth. The questionnaire for participating women has been translated into nine languages. Measures obtained from mothers will include, among others, mental and physical health, attitudes to corporal punishment, adverse childhood experiences, prenatal intimate partner violence, substance use and social/community support. Hair and dry blood spot samples are collected from the pregnant women to measure stress markers. To explore research participation among fathers, EBLS-FR is recruiting 300 fathers in the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Ethics and dissemination: The study received ethical approvals at all recruiting sites and universities in the project. Results will be disseminated through journal publications, conferences and seminar presentations involving local communities, health services and other stakeholders. Findings from this work will help to adjust the subsequent stages of the EBLS project.