Measurement of Mental Health Among Adolescents at the Population Level: A Multicountry Protocol for Adaptation and Validation of Mental Health Measures

Liliana Carvajal, Jill W. Ahs, Jennifer Harris Requejo, Christian Kieling, Andreas Lundin, Manasi Kumar, Nagendra P. Luitel, Marguerite Marlow, Sarah Skeen, Mark Tomilson, Brandon A.Kohrt

Adolescent Health

Published On: 25 March 2022

Purpose: Mental disorders are among the leading causes of disability among adolescents aged 10-19 years. However, data on prevalence of mental health conditions are extremely sparse across low- and middle-income countries, even though most adolescents live in these settings. This data gap is further exacerbated because few brief instruments for adolescent mental health are validated in these settings, making population-level measurement of adolescent mental health especially cumbersome to carry out. In response, the UNICEF has undertaken the Measurement of Mental Health Among Adolescents at the Population Level (MMAP) initiative, validating open-access brief measures and encouraging data collection in this area.

Methods: This protocol presents the MMAP mixed-methods approach for cultural adaptation and clinical validation of adolescent mental health data collection tools across settings. Qualitative activities include an initial translation and adaptation, review by mental health experts, focus-group discussions with adolescents, cognitive interviews, synthesis of findings, and back-translation. An enriched sample of adolescents with mental health problems is then interviewed with the adapted tool, followed by gold-standard semistructured diagnostic interviews.

Results: The study protocol is being implemented in Belize, Kenya, Nepal, and South Africa and includes measures for anxiety, depression, functional limitations, suicidality, care-seeking, and connectedness. Analyses, including psychometrics, will be conducted individually by country and combined across settings to assess the MMAP methodological process.

Discussion: This protocol contributes to closing the data gap on adolescent mental health conditions by providing a rigorous process of cross-cultural adaptation and validation of data collection approaches.

Keywords: Transcultural adaptation, Translation, Gold Standard Validation, Adolescent, Anxiety, Depression, Assessments, Developing countries, Mental health, Questionnaires, Validation, Protocol


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