224881 Vulnerable Girls' Index: Validation from survey research in Botswana, Malawi, and Mozambique

Monday, November 8, 2010

Carol Underwood, PhD , Dept of Health, Behavior & Society, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Hilary M. Schwandt, PhD , Center for Communication Programs, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Background: There is a growing recognition of and interest in adolescent girls' vulnerability to HIV. The factors that render girls vulnerable have rarely been systematically studied. The objective of this study was to validate a newly developed vulnerable girls' index (VGI) in Botswana, Malawi, and Mozambique. Methods:Survey research was conducted from October-December 2009 to test and validate the VGI. Random samples of adolescent girls ages 10-17 were drawn from selected geographic areas for this study: 800 in Botswana, 800 in Malawi, and 1000 in Mozambique. Results: A recent literature review found that girls are often vulnerable to HIV due to extra-individual factors, including social inequality and the unequal distribution of essential resources. Based on these findings, the VGI was constructed. This survey research was intended to evaluate internal construct validity, concurrent criterion validity, and predictive criterion validity. The structural domain, which includes items that measure levels of poverty, work, education, violence/safety, and initiation rites, of the VGI in Malawi has an alpha of 0.73 while in Mozambique the structural index has an alpha of 0.70. Analysis of the VGI structural domain with the Botswana data is forthcoming. Conclusions:The VGI is the first attempt at measuring girls' vulnerability from the perspective of girls. Initial analysis indicates the structural aspect of the VGI is potentially a valid measure of vulnerability. Future analysis will include further tests of the VGI, analysis of Botswana data, and measures of associations between the VGI and sexual risk taking behaviors.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
1. List five extra-individual factors that place adolescent girls at heightened risk of contracting HIV. 2. Compare and contrast factors correlated with adolescent girls' vulnerability to HIV in Botswana, Malawi, and Mozambique.

Keywords: Adolescents, International, Measuring Social Inequality

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked closely with the PI on this study and have contributed to the analysis of the data that will be presented.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.