Prevalence and correlates of depressive disorders in commercially sexual exploited children: A cross-sectional study in Mombasa, Kenya

Document Type



Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health


Background: Commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is a global concern and is among the common forms of sexual violence against children. In Kenya, about 32 % of girls and 16 % of boys experience sexual violence before the age of 18 years. While much has been written about the impact of child sexual exploitation, there’s little on the prevalence of depressive disorders among CSE children.

Objectives: This study was conducted to assess the prevalence and correlates of depressive disorders among CSE children in Mombasa, Kenya. Participants and setting: The study was conducted among CSE children (10–17 years) in Mombasa County.

Methods: A cross-sectional study conducted between May 2021 and June 2022. A total of 409 CSE children were enrolled, using a case management approach. Data was collected using the child identification tool and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), at the first counselling session to determine the prevalence of depression levels.

Results: Of the 409 children, 367 (90 %) were girls while 42 (10 %) were boys. The mean age was 15 years (10–17) (SD = 1.4, t = 0.765). In 286 (70 %) ‘Depression unlikely’ was recorded, while 123 (30 %) ‘Depression likelihood.’ Prevalence of mild to severe depression was significantly higher in girls than boys (p = 0.002). Other determinants of depression were having a primary level of education (p = 0.03) and being an orphan. (p = 0.03).

Conclusion: It is important to prioritize mental health interventions such as screening and early diagnosis of mental health among CSE children in order to prevent and manage both short and long term effects.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Child Abuse & Neglect