Perceived Needs and Symptoms of Common Mental Disorder
: Development and Use of the Humanitarian Emergency Settings Perceived Needs (HESPER) Scale

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

Aims: To address gaps in the humanitarian needs assessment and mental health research field, the Humanitarian Emergency Settings Perceived Needs (HESPER) Scale was developed, a valid and reliable scale to assess the perceived needs of adult populations affected by humanitarian emergencies in low- and middle-income countries. Methods: A previously developed draft version of the HESPER Scale was pre¬tested in the United Kingdom (UK) with seven refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and was then pilot-tested in small samples (122 participants in total) with displaced Iraqi people in Jordan, and with the local populations in Gaza and Sudan, to assess the scale’s feasibility, intelligibility, comprehensiveness and cultural applicability, and to determine the suitability of training materials. A revised version of the HESPER Scale was subsequently field-tested in larger samples (817 participants in total) with displaced Iraqi people in Jordan, with people displaced following an earthquake in Haiti, and with Bhutanese refugees in Nepal, to assess its psychometric properties, as well as testing its application in measuring perceived needs and in providing data to predict mental health outcome. Results: Participants during pilot-testing found the list of HESPER items to be comprehensive and relevant, suggesting face validity and content validity of the scale. During field-testing, inter-rater reliability, test-retest reliability and internal consistency of the HESPER Scale was good to excellent across the three sites. Most HESPER items correlated as was predicted with related questions of both a quality-of-life instrument and a distress scale, demonstrating criterion (concurrent) validity of the scale. The HESPER Scale was also able to provide useful data on perceived needs in the three field-sites, with few gender differences. Number of perceived unmet needs and number of past traumatic events were both associated with symptoms of common mental.
Date of Award2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorGraham Thornicroft (Supervisor) & Louise Howard (Supervisor)

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