Epidemiology of child psychiatric disorders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

University dissertation from Umeå : Barn- och ungdomspsykiatri

Abstract: Although mental disorders are common among children all over the world, information on the extent and types of child psychiatric disorders in Ethiopia is extremely limited. A study was conducted in an urban setting of Ethiopia to look at the prevalence of child psychiatric disorders and their correlates. A two-phase survey was performed. In the first phase, parents of 5000 children in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, were interviewed using the Reporting Questionnaire for Children (RQC). In the second phase, parents of all screen-positive children (n=864) and parents of 1537 screen-negative children were interviewed using the revised parent version of the Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents (DICA-R), a semi-structured diagnostic instrument that is based on the third revised edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-III-R). This thesis discusses the results of that study in comparison with other child mental health studies in Ethiopia and elsewhere.At the recommended cut-off score of 1, the sensitivity, specificity, predictive values and likelihood ratios of the RQC to DICA-R diagnoses were acceptable. The RQC had high accuracy with a misclassification rate of 17%.The weighted prevalence for any DSM-III-R diagnosis was 17%. The most prevalent condition was enuresis (12.1%) followed by simple phobia (5.5%). The prevalence rates of all other identified conditions were below 1%. Children's age, severe economic problems, and single parenthood were found to be risk factors for any DSM-III-R diagnosis in children. Male sex, younger age, and lower achieved educational grade of the child were all independently associated with childhood enuresis. The odds of having enuresis were significantly higher for children in families with extreme poverty and in children from single-parent homes. The risk of having enuresis was significantly higher in children who had anxiety disorders (AD) and disruptive behaviour disorders (DBD). Sex was significantly associated with disruptive behaviour disorders while grade level, age, family size, ethnicity, poverty, and single parenthood were not. Anxiety disorders were significantly associated with sex, ethnicity, and extreme poverty but not with the other socio-demographic variables. The absence of mood disorders and somatoform disorders, of which symptoms are often encountered in both children and adults at clinical settings and the low prevalence rates of most identified conditions, were probably related to the lack of awareness or alternative explanations at the community level regarding the understanding of behaviour changes. Campaigns of public mental health education with the aim of providing scientific information to society are highly recommended. While Ethiopia works towards mainstreaming mental health into its health care system, training health care workers in applying simple screening tools like the RQC is recommended.