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Perspectives of adolescent and young adults on poverty-related stressors: a qualitative study in Ghana, Malawi and Tanzania
  1. Brian J Hall1,2,
  2. Melissa R Garabiles3,
  3. Jacobus de Hoop4,
  4. Audrey Pereira4,
  5. Leah Prencipe4,
  6. Tia M Palermo4
  1. 1Global and Community Mental Health Research Group, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Macau, Macao (SAR), China
  2. 2Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  3. 3Department of Psychology, Ateneo de Manila, Quezon City, Philippines
  4. 4UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti, Florence, Toscana, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Brian J Hall; brianhall{at}


Objectives To define key stressors experienced and coping behaviours within poor agrarian communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Design Descriptive qualitative study incorporating inductive thematic analysis.

Participants 81 participants purposely sampled, stratified by age (adolescents and young adults) and sex

Setting The study was conducted in villages in Ghana, Malawi, and Tanzania.

Results Stressors were thematically grouped into those directly related to poverty and the lack of basic necessities (eg, food insecurity), and additional stressors (eg, drought) that worsen poverty-related stress. Impacts on functioning, health and well-being and key coping behaviours, both positive and negative, were identified. The findings together inform a more nuanced view of stress within these contexts.

Conclusion Although participants were asked to provide general reflections about stress in their community, the salience of poverty-related stressors was ubiquitously reflected in respondents’ responses. Poverty-related stressors affect development, well-being and gender-based violence. Future research should focus on interventions to alleviate poverty-related stress to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

  • Poverty
  • Stress
  • Coping
  • Mental Health
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

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  • Contributors BJH led the research design, qualitative analysis and wrote the first draft of the paper. MRG conducted the analysis, wrote the results and edited the paper for intellectual content. JdH jointly conceptualised the research with TMP, led the field data collection training, contributed to the analysis and edited the paper for intellectual content. AP collected data in the field, contributed to the analysis and edited the paper for intellectual content. LP collected data in the field, contributed to the analysis and edited the paper for intellectual content. TMP jointly conceptualised the research with JdH, supervised the project, contributed to the analysis, edited the paper for intellectual content and secured project funding. All authors approved the final paper for publication.

  • Funding Funding was provided by UNICEF and the Swedish International Development Cooperation (Sida) through a grant to the Transfer Project at UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti and Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

  • Disclaimer The findings, interpretations and conclusions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of UNICEF.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval for the study was obtained from COSTECH in Tanzania, University of Malawi ethics committee in Malawi and the ethics committee at Navrongo Health Research Centre in Ghana.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available.

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