Prevention Research Article Summaries
Stay on top of recently published scholarly articles related to the prevention of child abuse and neglect.
Each listing below includes:
- The "bottom line" of what you need to know about the article,
- A practitioner-friendly summary of the article, and
- The author's abstract from the journal or a link to read it, as well as a link to view or purchase the full article.
You will also see brief summaries of the findings of additional studies, with links to view abstracts and purchase or view the articles.
McFarlane, E., Burrell, L., Crowne, S., Cluxton-Keller, F., Fuddy, L., Leaf, P., et al. (2013). Maternal relationship security as a moderator of home visiting impacts on maternal psychosocial functioning. Prevention Science, 14(1), 25-39. Available for purchase here. (See longer article summary in Healthy Families America newsletter here .)
- Bottom Line
Short- and long-term effects of the Hawaii Healthy Start Program differed according to mothers’ adult attachment styles in this randomized study of more than 600 mothers. Among mothers with high levels of relationship anxiety and low relationship avoidance, those who received home visits had lower levels of parenting stress, improved mental health, fewer depressive symptoms and lower likelihood of interpersonal violence resulting in injury. Among mothers who scored high in both relationship anxiety and relationship avoidance, participation in home visiting was actually associated with poorer outcomes.
Special note: The January 2013 issue of Zero to Three focused on “Strengthening Home Visiting through Research” and featured articles about some of the recently completed research projects funded by the Pew Home Visiting Campaign. Access the Table of Contents here and order a copy or subscribe to the journal here.
SUMMARY: This study found that short- and long-term effects of the Hawaii Healthy Start Program differed according to mothers’ adult attachment styles. Analyzing data from more than 600 mothers and their children at child ages 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, and 9 years, researchers discovered few overall differences for mothers who were randomized to participate in home visiting compared to those who were not. However, grouping mothers by their levels of relationship anxiety and relationship avoidance uncovered some interesting differences. Among mothers with high levels of relationship anxiety and low relationship avoidance, those who received home visits had lower levels of parenting stress and improved mental health in the short-term (3 years post-enrollment). At child age 9, these mothers maintained those benefits and also had fewer depressive symptoms and lower likelihood of interpersonal violence resulting in injury. Among mothers who scored high in both relationship anxiety and relationship avoidance, participation in home visiting was actually associated with poorer outcomes, particularly higher likelihood of physical and psychological intimate partner violence at the long-term follow-up. The authors suggest possible explanations for these differences and propose both more effective targeting of home visiting programs to those who are most likely to benefit and tailoring of programs to better meet the needs of those who may not be as well served by current programming.
ABSTRACT: There is variability in home visiting program impacts on the outcomes achieved by high risk families. An understanding of how effects vary among families is important for refining service targeting and content. The current study assessed whether and how maternal attributes, including relationship security, moderate short- and long-term home visiting impacts on maternal psychosocial functioning. In this multisite RCT of home visiting in a population-based, ethnically-diverse sample of families at risk for maltreatment of their newborns (n?=?643), families were randomly assigned to home visited (HV) and control groups. HV families were to receive intensive services by trained paraprofessionals from birth-3 years. Outcome data were collected when children were 1, 2, and 3 years old and 7, 8, and 9 years old. Overall, short- and long-term outcomes for HV and control mothers did not differ significantly. Demographic attributes, a general measure of overall maternal risk, and partner violence did not moderate program impact on psychosocial functioning outcomes. Maternal relationship security did moderate program impact. Mothers who scored high on relationship anxiety but not on relationship avoidance showed the greatest benefits, particularly at the long-term follow-up. Mothers scoring high for both relationship anxiety and avoidance experienced some adverse consequences of home visiting. Further research is needed to determine mediating pathways and to inform and test ways to improve the targeting of home visiting and the tailoring of home visit service models to extend positive home visiting impacts to targeted families not benefiting from current models.
FINDINGS IN PROGRAM EVALUATIONS:
- An age-30 follow-up of participants in the Abecedarian intensive early care and education program for low-income children found that program participants were far more likely to have completed a bachelor’s degree than their randomly selected control group peers; however, increased educational attainment did not lead to statistically significant differences in income-to-needs ratio at age 30. Program participation in childhood did not appear to have an effect on self-reported adult criminality. Campbell, F. A., Pungello, E. P., Burchinal, M., Kainz, K., Pan, Y., Wasik, B. H., et al. (2012). Adult outcomes as a function of an early childhood educational program: An Abecedarian Project follow-up. Developmental Psychology, 48(4), 1033-1043. Available for purchase here; newsletter summary of results available here.
- A drop-in play area in a shopping mall was used as an informal, unconventional approach to reach “hard-to-reach” families and support parents who had difficulty connecting with their children. This qualitative, observational study found that the program was able to engage parents facing multiple challenges. Evangelou, M., Coxon, K., Sylva, K., Smith, S. & Chan, L. L. S. (2013). Seeking to Engage ‘Hard-to-Reach’ Families: Towards a Transferable Model of Intervention. Children & Society, 27(2), 127-138. Available for purchase here
- In a rigorous study, child and parent outcomes did not vary significantly among low-income families of young children with behavioral problems who completed 8 or 12 parent-child therapy sessions in an 8-week period. Treatment completion rates were low for both groups, but results were encouraging for those who completed the program at either intensity. The authors encourage increased efforts and adaptation as necessary to deliver services to low-income families dealing with behavioral problems in very young children. (Carrasco, J. M. & Fox, R. A. (2012). Varying treatment intensity in a home-based parent and child therapy program for families living in poverty: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Community Psychology, 40(5), 621-630. Available for purchase here. See also related article about treatment outcomes for the 8-session program: Fox, R., Mattek, R. & Gresl, B. (2012). Evaluation of a university-community partnership to provide home-based, mental health services for children from families living in poverty. Community Mental Health Journal, 1-12. Available for purchase here)
- The Early Start home visiting program was found to improve outcomes related to child abuse, physical punishment, child behavior, and parenting competence nine years post-enrollment. There were not significant differences between the treatment and control groups on other parental behavior and family outcomes. Fergusson, D. M., Boden, J. M. & Horwood, L. J. (2013). Nine-Year Follow-up of a Home-Visitation Program: A Randomized Trial. Pediatrics, 131(2), 297-303. Available for purchase here.
Risk and Protective Factors for Child Maltreatment
Postmus, J. L., Huang, C.-C. & Mathisen-Stylianou, A. (2012). The impact of physical and economic abuse on maternal mental health and parenting. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(9), 1922-1928. Available for purchase here.
- Bottom Line
BOTTOM LINE: Mothers in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study who reported experiencing psychological or economic abuse when their children were 1 year old were more likely to report depression and spanking at child age 5; those who were psychologically abused in year 1 were also less engaged with their children in year 5. Experience of physical abuse in year 1 was not associated with significant changes in the odds of depression, spanking, or engagement with the child in year 5.
SUMMARY: This study examined the effect of three forms of intimate partner violence (IPV) on mothers’ depression, spanking, and engagement with their children in early childhood. Data collected at year 1, year 3 and year 5 of the child’s life were used to assess the effects of IPV on mothers in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study who were still romantically involved with the child’s father at child age 1 year (n=2305). Mothers who reported experiencing psychological or economic abuse at year 1 were more likely to report depression and spanking at year 5; those who were psychologically abused in year 1 were also less engaged with their children in year 5. Experience of physical abuse in year 1 was not associated with significant changes in the odds of depression, spanking, or engagement with the child in year 5. The inclusion of economic abuse in this type of research is relatively rare; the findings about its relationship to maternal depression and parenting indicate that economic abuse deserves attention by those who work with families.
ABSTRACT: Using the first four waves of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), this article examined the long-term impact of intimate partner violence (IPV) on maternal depression and parenting. Findings from multivariate logistic regressions demonstrated that economic and psychological abuse at Year 1 had significant effects on the likelihood of mothers experiencing depression and spanking their children at Year 5. Psychological abuse experiences at Year 1 had a significant effect on the level of engagement with their children at Year 5. However, experiences of physical violence at Year 1 did not significantly impact mothers' depression or parenting. In addition, the results indicated that both the level and change of economic abuse increased the odds of mothers experiencing depression at Year 5. Similarly, both the level and change of psychological abuse decreased the odds of mothers engaging with their children at Year 5. Finally, the level of economic and psychological abuse at Year 1 increased the odds of the use of spanking in Year 5. These results suggest that there are long-term effects of economic and psychological abuse on mothers' depression and parenting and that more research is needed to understand the impact of abuse, specifically of economic abuse, among families that are victims of interpersonal violence. (Author abstract)
ADDITIONAL FINDINGS IN RISK AND PROTECTIVE FACTORS FOR CHILD MALTREATMENT:
- Among all children born in California in 2002, there were stark differences by race and ethnicity in risk of referral to Child Protective Services (CPS), substantiation of maltreatment, and entry into foster care prior to age 5. However, when adjusting for socioeconomic and health factors considered risk factors for maltreatment, both Black and Latino children had lower risk of referral, substantiation and entry into foster care than socioeconomically similar White children. The findings support a multi-faceted approach to reducing racial and ethnic disparities in CPS, focusing both on bias within the system and on other social, economic and health disparities that elevate risk for maltreatment. Putnam-Hornstein, E., Needell, B., King, B. & Johnson-Motoyama, M. (2013). Racial and ethnic disparities: A population-based examination of risk factors for involvement with child protective services. Child Abuse & Neglect, 37(1), 33-46. Available for purchase here.
- Maternal drug abuse was found to increase the odds of child neglect and abandonment, but not overall child maltreatment exposure, among 91 urban, young children seeking therapy for child maltreatment. Children of drug-abusing mothers had increased functional impairment scores; however, this difference was not significant once maltreatment exposure scores were taken into account. Onigu-Otite, E. C. & Belcher, H. M. E. (2012). Maternal drug abuse history, maltreatment, and functioning in a clinical sample of urban children. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(6), 491-497. Available for purchase here.
- Low-income, first-time mothers who were given baby books with educational messages about child development and alternatives to spanking were less likely to endorse corporal punishment than mothers who were given the same books with non-educational text and mothers who were not given books. These effects were strongest among African-American mothers and mothers with low levels of formal education. (Reich, S. M., Penner, E. K., Duncan, G. J. & Auger, A. (2012). Using baby books to change new mothers' attitudes about corporal punishment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(2), 108-117. Available for purchase here.)
Findings in Cultural Considerations
- Project SafeCare was found to be as effective in reducing repeat referrals to child welfare among American Indian parents as for parents of other races and ethnicities, as long as parents met standard criteria for program inclusion. American Indian parents also reported higher satisfaction with SafeCare services than with services as usual, including rating it high in cultural competence. (Chaffin, M., Bard, D., Bigfoot, D. S. & Maher, E. J. (2012). Is a structured, manualized, evidence-based treatment protocol culturally competent and equivalently effective among American Indian parents in child welfare? Child Maltreatment, 17(3), 242-252. Available for purchase here. See detailed article summary from Casey Family Programs here.)
Making the Case for Prevention: Consequences of Maltreatment
Topitzes, J., Mersky, J. P., Dezen, K. A. & Reynolds, A. J. (2013). Adult resilience among maltreated children: A prospective investigation of main effect and mediating models. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(6), 937-949. Available for purchase here.
- Bottom Line
BOTTOM LINE: Analysis of data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study revealed significant differences in resilience among young adults who were substantiated as victims of maltreatment up to age 11 and their peers who were not. The study also identified factors in adolescence that made resilience more or less likely for maltreated children. Among 24-year-olds who had not been substantiated victims of maltreatment from birth to age 11, 45.6% met a “resilience” threshold met by only 20.9% of maltreatment survivors. Adolescent factors that reinforced the trajectory from maltreatment to lower resilience included school moves, out-of-home placement, acting out behavior, and juvenile delinquency. On the other hand, greater reading ability, social skills, commitment to school, and expectation to attend college made adult resilience more likely among maltreated children.
SUMMARY: Analysis of data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study revealed significant differences in resilience among young adults who were substantiated as victims of maltreatment up to age 11 and their peers who were not. The study also identified factors in adolescence that made resilience more or less likely for maltreated children. Resilience in young adulthood was measured as an index of seven variables as of age 24 (high school graduation, having attended any college, incarceration, income, substance abuse, depressive symptoms, and future expectations). For each of these variables (with the exception of college attendance) a threshold was determined that reflected average achievement among this group of more than 1100 disadvantaged, urban young adults; average or above average achievement counted as a point on the resilience index. Among young adults who had not been substantiated victims of maltreatment from birth to age 11, 45.6% met a “resilience” threshold of 5 out of 7 possible points on the index, a threshold met by only 20.9% of maltreatment survivors. Using a threshold of 6 out of 7 possible resilience points, the difference was even starker, with just 4.7% of maltreated adults meeting the threshold, compared to 18.4% of non-maltreated adults. Using the 5/7 threshold for further analysis, the researchers tested whether certain factors measured in adolescence would mediate, or help to explain, the path from childhood maltreatment to lower adult resilience. Adolescent factors that reinforced the trajectory from maltreatment to lower resilience included school moves, out-of-home placement, acting out behavior, and juvenile delinquency. On the other hand, greater reading ability, social skills, commitment to school, and expectation to attend college made adult resilience more likely among maltreated children. Focusing on these adolescent indicators with maltreated children may offer opportunities to enhance their later resilience.
ABSTRACT: Studies examining resilience to child maltreatment reveal that maltreatment victims can achieve adaptive functioning in several areas of development; however, few of these individuals persistently demonstrate resilience across multiple domains. The majority of these investigations define adjustment with a limited number of outcomes measured proximal in time to the maltreatment experience. In contrast, this study measured adjustment across a diverse set of domains during early adulthood (ages 16–24), a number of years after the occurrence of childhood maltreatment (ages 0–11). Main effect and mediation analyses were conducted. Data were derived from the Chicago Longitudinal Study, an examination of 1539 minority individuals born in low-income Chicago-area neighborhoods in 1979 or 1980. Study participants were followed prospectively from birth through age 24. Maltreatment data originated from official court and child protective service records. Parent report, self report, and administrative sources informed covariate, mediator and outcome measures. Results from multivariate probit regression revealed that childhood maltreatment significantly and negatively predicted adult resilience. Exploratory and confirmatory mediation analyses showed that the following adolescent indicators helped explain the long-term association between childhood maltreatment and young adult adjustment: school moves and out-of-home placement, reading ability, acting out behavior, social skills, juvenile delinquency, commitment to school, and expectation to attend college. Implications of results are explored.
Additional findings in Consequences of Maltreatment
- Childhood neglect was associated with faster growth in body mass index in adolescence and young adulthood, among nearly 9,000 child participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The authors suggest further research focus on other factors that may affect the relationship between childhood neglect and obesity in adolescence. (Shin, S. H. & Miller, D. P. (2012). A longitudinal examination of childhood maltreatment and adolescent obesity: Results from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (AddHealth) Study. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(2), 84-94. Available for purchase here.)
Note: A special edition of the journal Parenting: Science and Practice focused on “The Arc of Parenting from Epigenomes to Ethics.” See the Table of Contents here, including:
- Bornstein, M. H. (2012). Cultural approaches to parenting. Parenting: Science and Practice, 12(2-3), 212-221. Available for purchase here.
- Conger, R. D., Schofield, T. J. & Neppl, T. K. (2012). Intergenerational continuity and discontinuity in harsh parenting. Parenting: Science and Practice, 12(2-3), 222-231. Available for purchase here.
- Pollak, S. D. (2012). The role of parenting in the emergence of human emotion: New approaches to the old nature-nurture debate. Parenting: Science and Practice, 12(2-3), 232-242. Available for purchase here.
- Pleck, J. H. (2012). Integrating father involvement in parenting research. Parenting: Science and Practice, 12(2-3), 243-253. Available for purchase here.
- Jenkins, J. (2012). Understanding multilevel dynamics in the development of parenting. Parenting: Science and Practice, 12(2-3), 254-260. Available for purchase here.