Exploring government level-interventions to mitigate childhood adversity in South Africa

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sci


Childhood adversity in the form of parental loss, imprisonment, mental health problems; or exposure to domestic violence or child abuse is associated with long-term negative health outcomes, especially mental health. Most research utilises a scale score cut-off of four or more childhood adversities to test associations, making it difficult to disentangle the contributions of specific adversities and their interactions to health outcomes. In addition, the vast majority of research stems from high income countries using cross-sectional samples. There is thus an urgent need to investigate childhood adversity and its associations with mental health outcomes in adulthood in low-and middle-income contexts where adversity is highest. More importantly, it is essential to find ways to mitigate the long term effects of childhood adversity.
This PhD proposal uses data from a three-wave cohort study in South Africa for which waves 1 and 2 were collected from 1800 adolescents aged 10-17 in 2010-11 and 2011-12. Wave 3 is funded by the ERC and will take place during the duration of this PhD 2020-2022. The successful candidate will use advanced quantitative techniques to examine childhood adversity risk profiles, their links with mental health in adulthood, and the effects of government grants, free schooling, school feeding schemes and receipt of child welfare/protection services on mental health outcomes.
The student will join the community of quantitative social scientists in the School of Social and Political Science and have access to the training provided through the Q Step Centre, AQMEN as well as the Department of Psychology. The student will complete postgraduate courses on statistical modelling, longitudinal data analysis, Latent Class Analysis and quasi-experimental methods.
This PhD is set within an ongoing study funded by the ERC and with multiple collaborators in South Africa and the UK. The PhD student will have the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time in the fieldwork site in South Africa as part of the data collection team in order to learn how to conduct large scale complex quantitative data collection, understand the context in which the data is collected and in which families live and to experience knowledge exchange and dissemination to local stakeholders.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000681/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2397634 Studentship ES/P000681/1 01/10/2020 31/03/2024 Christina Jane Thurston