City Research Online

Bringing an end to the silence: identifying priorities and solutions to addressing the mental health consequences of child marriage

Burgess, R. A., Sheibani, F., Kelly, I. , Jeffery, M., Gumbonzvanda, F., Lewis, G., Ashraf, A. N. ORCID: 0000-0002-9166-7040, Connor, C., Mombeshora, S. & Gumbonzvanda, N. (2023). Bringing an end to the silence: identifying priorities and solutions to addressing the mental health consequences of child marriage. Health Policy and Planning, 38(4), pp. 421-434. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czad006


Despite its inclusion in Sustainable Development Goal 5 to end all harmful gendered practices by 2030, child, early and forced marriages continue to be a pervasive problem globally. While there is consistent evidence on the physical health consequences of child marriage, there is a lack of evidence and inquiry into the mental health consequence. We completed a change-oriented Delphi study to establish consensus on priority areas of research and intervention in relation to the mental health consequences of child, early and forced marriages. Invited experts (n = 11), survivors (n = 27) and professionals (n = 30) participated in our Delphi. Four rounds of data collection included: a blended in-person and online workshop with invited experts, an online mixed-methods questionnaire, focus groups in Zimbabwe with women who are survivors of child marriage and a repeat questionnaire sent to the first round of experts. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and ranking methods, consistent with other Delphi studies. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic network analysis. Findings coalesced around three areas: perspectives on the relationship between mental health and child marriage, policy actions and treatment-driven solutions. Consensus was reached on 16 items across these areas which included the need to prioritize psychosocial and social interventions to improve mental health outcomes for women and girls in existing marriages. They also called for new approaches to advocacy to drive awareness of this issue in policy circles. Implications for future practice are discussed.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press in association with The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: Child marriage, early marriage, adolescent health, mental health, change-oriented Delphi
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of czad006.pdf]
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (13MB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login