Date of Defense:
June 3, 2014
Objective: Child maltreatment is prevalent in the United States and affects hundreds of thousands of children each year. In recent decades, an increased appreciation for the potential value of prevention strategies has resulted in trials to determine the efficacy of various interventions to prevent child abuse and neglect. The purpose of this literature review was to better understand what research reveals about the efficacy of these strategies to decrease child maltreatment.
Methods: A search was performed using PubMed through the University of Minnesota library website. Search terms used were “child maltreatment prevention”, “child abuse prevention” and “child neglect prevent ion”. A common abstraction form was used to retrieve information from the articles for comparative purposes. Quality of articles chosen was examined using the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPTF) “Hierarchy of research design and quality rating criteria”.
Results: The search identified 1257 articles from the past five years. Twelve were chosen for this review along with one additional article that had been identified on a previous search and included an observational study, a conceptual paper with case studies, four literature reviews, two non – randomized controlled studies and five randomized controlled studies. The four main types of interventions identified included community – based programs, home – visiting/early childhood programs, hospital or clinic – based program s and one population – based trial. Home – visiting/early childhood programs have the best evidence for effectiveness to prevent child maltreatment. Community – based interventions have the least evidence due to a paucity of studies with good analytic design. Two hospital and clinic – based programs have some evidence for positive results with variability in efficacy by target group. The population – based trial of a parenting program appeared to show some positive effects, but should be replicated to better clarify effects on the actual incidence of child maltreatment.
Conclusion: Further research is needed to better elucidate the most effective child maltreatment prevention strategies and for which target groups they are most efficacious.