Development of a Psychosocial Distress Measure for Ugandan Adolescents Living with HIV

Psychological distress among adolescents living with HIV (ALH) has been associated with risky behaviors including non-adherence to anti-retroviral therapy, leading to increased risk for AIDS morbidity and mortality. Efforts to establish the nature, prevalence, and impact of psychological distress among ALH in Uganda are hindered by the lack of culturally relevant assessment tools. The purpose of this study was to develop and test a measure for psychological distress for Ugandan ALH aged 12-19 years (N = 508; 53.1 % female). Using a mixed method approach, we developed and tested a 25-item checklist with six subscales-anhedonia, depressive-anxiety, isolation, suicidal ideation, sleep problems, and somatization. We found adequate reliability for the scale (alpha = 0.89), and a satisfactory measurement structure in our confirmatory factor analyses (RMSEA 0.90). We discuss the potential use of this culturally sensitive scale to examine psychological distress among ALH in Uganda.