AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 480–490 | Cite as

A Brief Assessment of Learning for Orphaned and Abandoned Children in Low and Middle Income Countries

  • Karen O’DonnellEmail author
  • Robert Murphy
  • Jan Ostermann
  • Max Masnick
  • Rachel A. Whetten
  • Elisabeth Madden
  • Nathan M. Thielman
  • Kathryn Whetten
  • The Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO) Research Team
Original Paper


Assessment of children’s learning and performance in low and middle income countries has been critiqued as lacking a gold standard, an appropriate norm reference group, and demonstrated applicability of assessment tasks to the context. This study was designed to examine the performance of three nonverbal and one adapted verbal measure of children’s problem solving, memory, motivation, and attention across five culturally diverse sites. The goal was to evaluate the tests as indicators of individual differences affected by life events and care circumstances for vulnerable children. We conclude that the measures can be successfully employed with fidelity in non-standard settings in LMICs, and are associated with child age and educational experience across the settings. The tests can be useful in evaluating variability in vulnerable child outcomes.


Orphans Learning Performance Low and middle income Tests 



This work was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), grant No. 5R01HD046345-04. We thank all the children and caregivers who participated in this study. We appreciate the support that has been provided by the partner organizations: KIWAKKUKI in Moshi, Tanzania; ACE Africa in Bungoma, Kenya; SaveLives Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Save the Vulnerables Organization in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Homeland Meahto Phum Ko’Mah in Battambang, Cambodia; and Sahara Centre for Rehabilitation and Residential Care in Delhi, Hyderabad and Nagaland, India. We thank Anna Both for help in manuscript preparation.

Supplementary material

10461_2011_9940_MOESM1_ESM.doc (38 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 37 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen O’Donnell
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  • Robert Murphy
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
  • Jan Ostermann
    • 1
  • Max Masnick
    • 1
  • Rachel A. Whetten
    • 1
  • Elisabeth Madden
    • 7
    • 8
  • Nathan M. Thielman
    • 1
    • 7
  • Kathryn Whetten
    • 1
    • 2
    • 6
  • The Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO) Research Team
  1. 1.Center for Health Policy, Duke Global Health InstituteDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Terry Sanford Institute of Public PolicyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral SciencesDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  4. 4.Department of PediatricsDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  5. 5.Center for Child and Family HealthDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  6. 6.Department of Community and Family MedicineDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  7. 7.Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and International HealthDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  8. 8.Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

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