Emotional and behavioral problems among impoverished Kenyan youth: factor structure and sex-differences
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Data on youth emotional and behavioral problems from societies in Sub-Saharan Africa are lacking. This may be due to the fact that few youth mental health assessments have been tested for construct validity of syndrome structure across multicultural societies that include developing countries, and almost none have been tested in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Youth Self-Report (YSR), for example, has shown great consistency of its syndrome structure across many cultures, yet data from only one developing country in Sub-Saharan Africa have been included. In this study, we test the factor structure of YSR syndromes among Kenyan youth ages 11-18 years from an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya and examine sex-differences in levels of emotional and behavioral problems. We find the eight syndrome structure of the YSR to fit these data well (Root Mean Square Error of Approximation=.049). While Kenyan girls have significantly higher internalizing (Anxious/Depressed, Withdrawn/Depressed, Somatic) problem scores than boys, these differences are of similar magnitude to published multicultural findings. The results support the generalizability of the YSR syndrome structure to Kenyan youth and are in line with multicultural findings supporting the YSR as an assessment of emotional and behavioral problems in diverse societies.