Perspectives of adolescent and young adults on poverty related stressors: A qualitative study in Ghana, Malawi, and Tanzania

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Objectives To define key stressors experienced and coping behaviours within poor agrarian communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Design Descriptive qualitative study incorporating inductive thematic analysis.

Participants 81 participants purposely sampled, stratified by age (adolescents and young adults) and sex

Setting The study was conducted in villages in Ghana, Malawi, and Tanzania.

Results Stressors were thematically grouped into those directly related to poverty and the lack of basic necessities (eg, food insecurity), and additional stressors (eg, drought) that worsen poverty-related stress. Impacts on functioning, health and well-being and key coping behaviours, both positive and negative, were identified. The findings together inform a more nuanced view of stress within these contexts.

Conclusion Although participants were asked to provide general reflections about stress in their community, the salience of poverty-related stressors was ubiquitously reflected in respondents’ responses. Poverty-related stressors affect development, well-being and gender-based violence. Future research should focus on interventions to alleviate poverty-related stress to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.