Assessing the Effect of Household Member Mortality on Mental Health Outcomes Using Longitudinal Data from South Africa

While studies outside sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have utilized longitudinal data to examine how economic crises, natural disasters, and other stressful life events (SLEs) influence mental health outcomes, there has been little research on such effects in SSA despite the twin significance of disease- and accident-related mortality and mental disorders in the region. This project will fill this gap by utilizing data from the first nationally representative longitudinal survey of the South African population, the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS). The NIDS data span a seven-year period (2008-2015), contain detailed information on mortality and other SLEs within households, and include measures of depressive symptoms for all adult household members. Aim 1 of the project is to explore and assess trends in mental health in South Africa in+E78 the seven-year period, including transitions into or out of poor mental health. Aim 2 is to determine patterns in depression before and after the mortality of a household member and identify the causal effect of accidental household member mortality on depression. The analyses will employ panel data regression techniques including models with individual fixed effects and time trends. The project will ultimately enhance our understanding of how mortality is influencing mental health outcomes in South Africa and help determine the level of need for mental health services as well as ways to improve the targeted provision of such services.

Principal Investigators: Harsha Thirumurthy, Marisa Domino

Funding Source: NIH NICHD

Grant Number: R03HD086497

Funding Period: 7/25/2016 - 6/30/2018

Primary Research Area: Population Health

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