A comparative study of psychotic and affective symptoms in Rwandan and Kenyan students

A. Owoso, S. Jansen, D. M. Ndetei, A. Musau, V. N. Mutiso, C. Mudenge, A. Ngirababyeyi, A. Gasovya, D. Mamah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Aims. War and conflict are known to adversely affect mental health, although their effects on risk symptoms for psychosis development in youth in various parts of the world are unclear. The Rwandan genocide of 1994 and Civil War had widespread effects on the population. Despite this, there has been no significant research on psychosis risk in Rwanda. Our goal in the present study was to investigate the potential effects of genocide and war in two ways: by comparing Rwandan youth born before and after the genocide; and by comparing Rwandan and Kenyan adolescents of similar age. Methods. A total of 2255 Rwandan students and 2800 Kenyan students were administered the Washington Early Recognition Center Affectivity and Psychosis (WERCAP) Screen. Prevalence, frequency and functional impairment related to affective and psychosis-risk symptoms were compared across groups using univariate and multivariate statistics. Results. Rwandan students born before the end of the genocide and war in 1994 experienced higher psychotic and affective symptom load (p's < 0.001) with more functional impairment compared with younger Rwandans. 5.35% of older Rwandan students met threshold for clinical high-risk of psychosis by the WERCAP Screen compared with 3.19% of younger Rwandans (χ 2 = 5.36; p = 0.02). Symptom severity comparisons showed significant (p < 0.001) group effects between Rwandan and Kenyan secondary school students on affective and psychotic symptom domains with Rwandans having higher symptom burden compared with Kenyans. Rwandan female students also had higher rates of psychotic symptoms compared with their male counterparts - a unique finding not observed in the Kenyan sample. Conclusions. These results suggest extreme conflict and disruption to country from genocide and war can influence the presence and severity of psychopathology in youth decades after initial traumatic events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-168
Number of pages12
JournalEpidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Africa
  • adolescents
  • high-risk
  • war


Dive into the research topics of 'A comparative study of psychotic and affective symptoms in Rwandan and Kenyan students'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this