Assessing the effectiveness of the NICHD investigative interview protocol when interviewing French-speaking alleged victims of child sexual abuse in Quebec

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Child Abuse & Neglect, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp. 257-268.

There have been many previous studies that have explored the effectiveness of the NICHD investigative interview protocol when interviewing alleged victims of sexual abuse. This is the first study to be conducted by researchers who did not develop the tool, and the authors hope to provide evidence of applicability to French speaking children. This study used 83 protocol guided interviews conducted by police officers and social workers that were then matched with 83 non-protocol guided interviews with children who have been referred to police or child protection services following an allegation of sexual abuse (n= 166). Children ranged in age from 3 to 13 (mean age of 9 years of age, SD=2.5), and 60% were female. Alleged perpetrators comprised of immediate family members, extended family members, acquaintances, and strangers, 55%, 12%, 28%, and 4%, respectively. The protocol was divided into pre-substantive, substantive, and termination groupings. Each grouping was translated into French and only substantive parts of interviews were coded. Details were categorized as either central or peripheral.

Protocol guided interviews provided more accurate, “central” information than non-protocol guided interviews. Open ended invitations were 3 times more common, whereas more directive, option-posing, or suggestive utterances were less likely in protocol guided interviews. Furthermore, protocol guided interviews required 25% fewer questions from the interviewers to obtain the same information. The authors found, however, that more direct, immediate feedback was needed given the unfamiliarity of the interviewers to the protocol. The authors note that in light of universal applicability, this may be an issue in the context of time constraint.

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