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Adolescents Psychological Distress and its Association with Parental Psychological Abuse and Neglect among Adolescents in Illu Abba Bor Zone, Southwest Ethiopia: a Community Based, Cross-Sectional Study

Hunde Tarafa, Almaz Mamaru and Yonas Tesfaye

Background: Psychological distress among adolescents is a common mental health problem worldwide. The risk of psychological distress is substantially higher in adolescents who have parental psychological abuse and neglect when compared to the general population. However, there is a scarcity of studies addressing this issue in Ethiopia. Therefore, this study aimed to assess psychological distress and its association with parental psychological abuse and neglect among adolescents in Mettu town, 2020.

Methods: A community-based cross-sectional study was conducted among 847 adolescents of Mettu town. Study participants were selected by stratified sampling technique. Data were collected through interviewer-administered questionnaires. Pearson’s correlation analysis was used to assess the correlation between variables of the study (psychological distress and parental psychological abuse and neglect). Linear regression analysis was done and statistical significance was declared at P<0.05.

Results: Out of the total sample, 819 adolescents were involved with a response rate of 96.7%. The overall prevalence of psychological distress was 43.7%. Among the respondents, 192(23.4%) experienced parental psychological abuse, 290(35.4%) experienced emotional neglect, and 247(30.2%) experienced physical neglect. Parental psychological abuse (β=.65, p<.001), emotional neglect (β=.21, p=.003), and physical neglect (β=.17, p=.007) were significantly associated with psychological distress.

Conclusion: The prevalence of psychological distress in this study was relatively high, and strongly associated with parental psychological abuse, and neglect during adolescence. Therefore, the promotion of community mental health intervention programs directing at minimizing occurrences of parental psychological abuse and neglect is essential to reduce the incidence of psychological distress among adolescents.