Research Article

Prevalence and associated factors of psychological distress among a national sample of in-school adolescents in Liberia

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 31, issue 2, 2021 , pages: 197–202
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2021.1903158
Author(s): Supa Pengpid, Thailand, Karl Peltzer, South Africa


This study aimed to estimate the prevalence and correlates of psychological distress among adolescent school children in Liberia. We analysed data from a cross-sectional nationally representative sample of 2 744 school adolescents (median: 18 years) gathered by the Liberia Global School-Based Student Health Survey (GSHS, 2017). Results indicate that the overall prevalence of psychological distress was 24.5%, 27.3% in girls and 21.2% in boys. In adjusted logistic regression analysis, bullying victimisation, girls, frequent experience of hunger, daily exposure to secondary smoke, and ever amphetamine use increased the odds of psychological distress. In addition, in univariate analysis, interpersonal violence (attacked and in fights), parental disrespect of privacy, school truancy, substance use (alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis), multiple sexual partners, and injury were associated with psychological distress. Addressing psychological distress and related factors should be a priority of prevention and care strategies in this vulnerable population.

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