Physical and sexual abuse in orphaned compared to non-orphaned children in sub-Saharan Africa: A systematic review and meta-analysis

J. Nichols, L. Embleton, A. Mwangi, G. Morantz, R. Vreeman, S. Ayaya, D. Ayuku, P. Braitstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

This systematic review assessed the quantitative literature to determine whether orphans are more likely to experience physical and/or sexual abuse compared to non-orphans in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It also evaluated the quality of evidence and identified research gaps. Our search identified 10 studies, all published after 2005, from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya and Uganda. The studies consisted of a total 17,336 participants (51% female and 58% non-orphans). Of those classified as orphans (n= 7,315), 73% were single orphans, and 27% were double orphans. The majority of single orphans were paternal orphans (74%). Quality assessment revealed significant variability in the quality of the studies, although most scored higher for general design than dimensions specific to the domain of orphans and abuse. Combined estimates of data suggested that, compared to non-orphans, orphans are not more likely to experience physical abuse (combined OR= 0.96, 95% CI [0.79, 1.16]) or sexual abuse (combined OR= 1.25, 95% CI [0.88, 1.78]). These data suggest that orphans are not systematically at higher risk of experiencing physical or sexual abuse compared to non-orphans in sub-Saharan Africa. However, because of inconsistent quality of data and reporting, these findings should be interpreted with caution. Several recommendations are made for improving data quality and reporting consistency on this important issue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-316
Number of pages13
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume38
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2014

Keywords

  • Abuse
  • Orphans
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Medicine(all)

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