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Parental Report of Signs of Anxiety and Depression in Children and Adolescents with and Without Disability in Middle- and Low-Income Countries: Meta-analysis of 44 Nationally Representative Cross-Sectional Surveys

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E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>4/10/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>Child psychiatry and human development
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date4/10/23
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Population-based studies undertaken in high-income countries have indicated that children and adolescents with disabilities are more likely than their non-disabled peers to experience emotional difficulties such as anxiety and depression. Very little is known about the association between disability and emotional difficulties among children growing up in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). We aimed to estimate the strength of association between disability and two forms of emotional difficulties (anxiety, depression) in a range of LMICs and to determine whether the strength of this relationship was moderated by child age and gender. Secondary analysis of data collected in Round 6 of UNICEF's Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys undertaken in 44 LMICs (combined n = 349,421). Data were aggregated across countries by both mixed effects multi-level modelling and restricted maximum likelihood meta-analysis. Young people with disabilities, when compared with their non-disabled peers, were approximately two and a half times more likely to be reported by parents to show daily signs of either anxiety or depression. The level of risk among young people with disabilities was highest in upper middle-income countries and lowest in low-income countries. We estimated that approximately 20% of young people with frequent anxiety or depression also had a disability. All approaches to mental health interventions (from primary prevention to clinical interventions) need to make reasonable accommodations to their services to ensure that the young people with emotional difficulties who also have a disability are not 'left behind'. [Abstract copyright: © 2023. The Author(s).]