Publications & Reports

Psychosocial assessments for HIV+ African adolescents: establishing construct validity and exploring under-appreciated correlates of adherence.

Lowenthal ED, Marukutira TC, Chapman J, Mokete K, Riva K, Tshume O, Eby J, Matshaba M, Anabwani GM, Gross R, Glanz K


STUDY OBJECTIVES: Psychosocial factors such as outcome expectancy, perceived stigma, socio-emotional support, consideration of future consequences, and psychological reactance likely influence adolescent adherence to antiretroviral treatments. Culturally-adapted and validated tools for measuring these factors in African adolescents are lacking. We aimed to identify culturally-specific factors of importance to establishing local construct validity in Botswana.

METHODS: Using in-depth interviews of 34 HIV+ adolescents, we explored how the psychosocial factors listed above are perceived in this cultural context. We evaluated six scales that have been validated in other contexts. We also probed for additional factors that the adolescents considered important to their HIV medication adherence. Analyses were conducted with an analytic framework approach using NVivo9 software.

RESULTS: While the construct validity of some Western-derived assessment tools was confirmed, other tools were poorly representative of their constructs in this cultural context. Tools chosen to evaluate HIV-related outcome expectancy and perceived stigma were well-understood and relevant to the adolescents. Feedback from the adolescents suggested that tools to measure all other constructs need major modifications to obtain construct validity in Botswana. The scale regarding future consequences was poorly understood and contained several items that lacked relevance for the Batswana adolescents. They thought psychological reactance played an important role in adherence, but did not relate well to many components of the reactance scale. Measurement of socio-emotional support needs to focus on the adolescent-parent relationship, rather than peer-support in this cultural context. Denial of being HIV-infected was an unexpectedly common theme. Ambivalence about taking medicines was also expressed.

DISCUSSION: In-depth interviews of Batswana adolescents confirmed the construct validity of some Western-developed psychosocial assessment tools, but demonstrated limitations in others. Previously underappreciated factors related to HIV medication adherence, such as denial and ambivalence, should be further explored.

Link to publisher’s web site


  • Journal: PLoS One
  • Published: 03/10/2014
  • Volume: 9
  • Issue: 10
  • Pagination: e109302



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