Data on mental health among orphaned children in India are scanty. We compared the generalized anxiety, conduct and peer relationship problems and their associated risk factors among children orphaned by HIV/AIDS and those due to other reasons in the Indian city of Hyderabad.
Four hundred orphaned children aged 12 to 16 years residing in orphanages in Hyderabad were sampled, half being AIDS orphans (COA) and the rest orphaned due to other reasons (COO). Interviews were done using standardized scales to assess generalized anxiety, conduct and peer relationship problems. A score >8, >4, and >5 was considered as indicator of generalized anxiety, conduct problem and peer relationship problem, respectively. Variations in the intensity of these three conditions due to possible factors including co-existing depression were assessed using multiple classification analysis (MCA).
A total of 396 (99.3 %) orphans participated of whom 199 (50.3 %) were COA. The mean generalized anxiety, conduct and peer relationship problem scores were 11.1 (SD 5.2), 3.8 (SD 2.5) and 3.8 (SD 2.5) for COA; and 7.6 (SD 4), 2.6 (SD 2) and 2.3 (SD 1.8) for COO, respectively. Among COA, the prevalence of generalized anxiety score of >8 was 74.4 % (95 % CI 67.8-80.0 %), of conduct problem score of >4 was 33.2 % (95 % CI 26.9-40.1 %), and of peer relationship problem score of >5 was 27.6 %, (95 % CI 21.8-34.3 %), with these being significantly lower in COO. In MCA, a higher mean depression score had the highest effect on the intensity of generalized anxiety, conduct and peer relationship problem (Beta 0.477; 0.379 and 0.453 respectively); being COA and a girl had the most impact on generalized anxiety (0.100 and 0.115, respectively).
A significantly high proportion of AIDS orphans deal with generalized anxiety, conduct and peer relationship problem as compared with other orphans highlighting the need to address the poor mental health of orphans in India.