Association of caregiver quality of care with neurocognitive outcomes in HIV-affected children aged 2-5 years in Uganda

Judith K. Bass, Noeline Nakasujja, Itziar Familiar-Lopez, Alla Sikorskii, Sarah M. Murray, Robert Opoka, Jura Augustinavicius, Michael J. Boivin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children affected by HIV are at increased risk of developmental and neuropsychological disturbances due to direct effects of HIV on the brain and direct effects associated with living in poverty. Caregivers can play an important role, through quality caregiving, in mitigating the negative effect of these stressors. This study used baseline data from an ongoing caregiver training intervention trial to evaluate the association between quality of caregiver-child interactions and neurocognitive outcomes in rural HIV-infected and HIV-exposed but uninfected children in Uganda. We also assessed the extent to which caregiver distress moderated this relationship. Data on 329 caregiver-child dyads were collected between March 2012 and July 2014, when the children were between 2 and 5 years of age. Child outcomes include the Mullen Scales of Early Learning to assess general cognitive ability and the Color Object Association Test to assess immediate memory and total recall. Caregiving quality was assessed using the Home Observation for the Measurement of the Environment (HOME) total and subscale scores. Caregiver distress was assessed using the Hopkins Symptom Checklist. General linear regression models assessed the association between the HOME total and subscale scores and child outcomes, with interaction terms used to test moderation by caregiver distress. Total HOME scores were positively and significantly associated with Mullen scores of cognitive ability; HOME acceptance subscale scores were positively and significantly associated with immediate recall scores. No other associations were statistically significant. As hypothesized, there is a strong association between the HOME and Mullen scores of cognitive ability in our study population, such that children who were assessed as living in environments with more stimulation also presented with a higher level of general neurocognitive development. Our results support the view of program guidance for HIV-affected children that suggest family-oriented care with emphasis on parent-child relationships for optimal child development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-83
Number of pages8
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
StatePublished - Mar 24 2016


  • Caregiving
  • Child development
  • Low-income countries
  • Maternal
  • Mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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