Document Type



Faculty of Health Sciences, East Africa


Background: Orphaned and vulnerable adolescents (OVA) in sub-Saharan Africa are at greater risk for adverse psychological outcomes compared with their non-OVA counterparts. Social interventions that provide cash transfers (CTs) have been shown to improve health outcomes among young people, but little is known about their impact on the psychological wellbeing of OVA.

Objective: Among OVA in western Kenya, we assessed the association between living in a household that received monthly unconditional government CTs and psychological wellbeing.

Methods: We examined the likelihood of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and positive future outlook among 655 OVA aged between 10 and 18 years who lived in 300 randomly selected households in western Kenya that either received or did not receive unconditional monthly CTs.

Results: The mean age was 14.0 (SD 2.4) years and 329 (50.2%) of the participants were female while 190 (29.0%) were double orphans whose biological parents were both deceased. After adjusting for socio-demographic, caregiver, and household characteristics and accounting for potential effects of participant clustering by sub-location of residence, OVA living in CT households were more likely to have a positive future outlook (odds ratio [OR] 1.47, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.08, 1.99), less likely to be anxious (OR 0.57, 95% CI 0.42, 0.78), and less likely to have symptoms of post-traumatic stress (OR 0.50, 95% CI 0.29, 0.89). We did not find statistically significant differences in odds of depression by CT group.

Conclusion: OVA in CT households reported better psychological wellbeing compared to those in households not receiving CTs. CT interventions may be effective for improving psychological wellbeing among vulnerable adolescents in socioeconomically deprived households.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University

Publication (Name of Journal)

PloS one