Community‐Based Caregiver and Family Interventions to Support the Mental Health of Orphans and Vulnerable Children: Review and Future Directions

Francesca Penner, Carla Sharp, Lochner Marais, Cilly Shohet, Deborah Givon, Michael Boivin - New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development


The goal of this paper was to conduct a review of studies from 2008 to 2019 that evaluated community‐based caregiver or family interventions to support the mental health of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in sub‐Saharan Africa, across four domains: (a) study methodology, (b) cultural adaptation and community participation, (c) intervention strategies, and (d) effects on child mental health. Ten interventions were identified. Findings revealed that the majority of studies used a randomized controlled trial or quasi‐experimental design, but few conducted long‐term follow‐up; that all programs undertook cultural adaptation of the intervention using community participatory methods, or were locally developed; that the majority of interventions targeted caregiving behavior and/or caregiver–child relationships using behavioral and cognitive‐behavioral strategies, or were home visiting interventions; and that interventions had mixed effects on OVC mental health. Progress and gaps revealed by these findings are discussed, as are suggestions for possible new directions in this area of intervention science.