Psychological Distress among Adolescents in Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka

Heeyoung Lee, Eun Young Lee, Brian Greene, Young jeon Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore psychological distress and examine the relationship between this distress and individual, family, and school factors among adolescents in four low- and middle-income countries (LAMICs) in Asia (i.e., Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka). Methods: A total of 4,098 adolescents attending public schools in the four LAMICs were surveyed as part of the Healthy School Development Project, which aimed to develop school capacity for improving (1) health among all school members and (2) the school environment through tailored school health programs. Psychological distress, family factors (i.e., parental understanding and monitoring, and parental tobacco and alcohol use), and school factors (i.e., having close friends, not bullied, school attendance, and health education) were assessed using self-report questionnaires. Data were collected from September to November in 2012 and 2013. Data analysis comprised descriptive statistics, Chi-squared testing, and logistic regression. Results: Over half of the participants were women (53.2%–64.1%), and 33.7% (in Sri Lanka) to 53.8% (in Laos) were aged older than 15 years. Approximately 32.9% reported the presence of psychological distress; moreover, 7.9%–13.2% reported suicidal ideation. Parental monitoring and being bullied were associated with psychological distress in all four countries. Conclusion: One-third of adolescents experience psychological distress across these four LAMICs, which poses a substantial public health issue. Adolescents can benefit from family and school-based approaches for screening, ameliorating, and preventing psychological distress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-153
Number of pages7
JournalAsian Nursing Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019 May


  • adolescent
  • developing countries
  • school health services
  • stress, psychological


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