Derivation of probable child maltreatment indicators using prospectively recorded information between 5 months and 17 years in a longitudinal cohort of Canadian children

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Scardera, S., Langevin, R., Collin-Vézina, D., Cabana, M. C., Pinto Pereira, S. M., Côté, S., Ouellet-Morin, I., & Geoffroy, M. C. (2023). Derivation of probable child maltreatment indicators using prospectively recorded information between 5 months and 17 years in a longitudinal cohort of Canadian children. Child abuse & neglect143, 106247.

Both prospective and retrospective measures of child maltreatment predict mental health problems, despite their weak concordance. Research remains largely based on retrospective reports spanning the entire childhood due to a scarcity of prospectively completed questionnaires targeting maltreatment specifically. We developed a prospective index of child maltreatment in the Québec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (QLSCD) using prospective information collected from ages 5 months to 17 years and examined its concordance with retrospective maltreatment. The QLSCD is an ongoing population-based cohort that includes 2,120 participants born from 1997-1998 in the Canadian Province of Quebec. As the QLSCD did not have maltreatment as a focal variable, we screened 29,600 items completed by multiple informants (mothers, children, teachers, home observations) across 14 measurement points (0-17 years). Items that could reflect maltreatment were first extracted. Two maltreatment experts reviewed these items for inclusion and determined cut-offs for possible child maltreatment. Retrospective maltreatment was self-reported at 23 years. Indicators were derived across preschool, school-age, and adolescence periods and by the end of childhood and adolescence, including presence (yes/no), chronicity (re-occurrence), extent of exposure and cumulative maltreatment. Across all developmental periods, the presence of maltreatment was as follows: physical abuse (16.3-21.8%), psychological abuse (3.3-21.9%), emotional neglect (20.4-21.6%), physical neglect (15.0-22.3%), supervisory neglect (25.8- 44.9%), family violence (4.1-11.2%) and sexual abuse (9.5% in adolescence only). In addition to the many future research opportunities offered by these prospective indicators of maltreatment, this study offers a roadmap to researchers wishing to undertake a similar task.

Canadian CW research
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