The Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS) : Protocol for a national survey of the prevalence of child abuse and neglect, associated mental disorders and physical health problems, and burden of disease

Journal article


Mathews, Ben, Pacella, Rosana, Dunne, Michael, Scott, James, Finkelhor, David, Meinck, Franziska, Higgins, Daryl J., Erskine, Holly, Thomas, Hannah J., Haslam, Divna, Tran, Nam, Le, Ha, Honey, Nikki, Kellard, Karen and Lawrence, David. (2021). The Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS) : Protocol for a national survey of the prevalence of child abuse and neglect, associated mental disorders and physical health problems, and burden of disease. BMJ Open. 11(5), p. Article e047074. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-047074
AuthorsMathews, Ben, Pacella, Rosana, Dunne, Michael, Scott, James, Finkelhor, David, Meinck, Franziska, Higgins, Daryl J., Erskine, Holly, Thomas, Hannah J., Haslam, Divna, Tran, Nam, Le, Ha, Honey, Nikki, Kellard, Karen and Lawrence, David
Abstract

Introduction: Child maltreatment (physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and exposure to domestic violence) is widely understood to be associated with multiple mental health disorders, physical health problems and health risk behaviours throughout life. However, Australia lacks fundamental evidence about the prevalence and characteristics of child maltreatment, its associations with mental disorders and physical health, and the associated burden of disease. These evidence gaps impede the development of public health strategies to better prevent and respond to child maltreatment. The aims of this research are to generate the first comprehensive population-based national data on the prevalence of child maltreatment in Australia, identify associations with mental disorders and physical health conditions and other adverse consequences, estimate attributable burden of disease and indicate targeted areas for future optimal public health prevention strategies.

Methods and analysis: The Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS) is a nationwide, cross-sectional study of Australia’s population aged 16 years and over. A survey of approximately 10 000 Australians will capture retrospective self-reported data on the experience in childhood of all five types of maltreatment (physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and exposure to domestic violence). A customised, multimodule survey instrument has been designed to obtain information including: the prevalence and characteristics of these experiences; diagnostic screening of common mental health disorders; physical health; health risk behaviours and health service utilisation. The survey will be administered in March–November 2021 to a random sample of the nationwide population, recruited through mobile phone numbers. Participants will be surveyed using computer-assisted telephone interviews, conducted by trained interviewers from the Social Research Centre, an agency with extensive experience in studies of health and adversity. Rigorous protocols protect the safety of both participants and interviewers, and comply with all ethical and legal requirements. Analysis will include descriptive statistics reporting the prevalence of individual and multitype child maltreatment, multiple logistic and linear regression analyses to determine associations with mental disorders and physical health problems. We will calculate the population attributable fractions of these putative outcomes to enable an estimation of the disease burden attributable to child maltreatment.

Ethics and dissemination: The study has been approved by the Queensland University of Technology Human Research Ethics Committee (#1900000477, 16 August 2019). Results will be published to the scientific community in peer-reviewed journals, scientific meetings and through targeted networks. Findings and recommendations will be shared with government policymakers and community and organisational stakeholders through diverse engagement activities, a dedicated Advisory Board and a systematic knowledge translation strategy. Results will be communicated to the public through an organised media strategy and the ACMS website.

Year2021
JournalBMJ Open
Journal citation11 (5), p. Article e047074
PublisherBMJ Publishing Group
ISSN2044-6055
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-047074
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85105705659
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range1-11
FunderNational Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online11 May 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted20 Apr 2021
Deposited28 Oct 2021
Grant IDNHMRC/1158750
NHMRC/1105807
NHMRC/1137969
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Higgins, Daryl J., Kaufman, Keith and Erooga, Marcus. (2016). How can child welfare and youth-serving organisations keep children safe? Developing Practice.
Conceptualising the prevention of child sexual abuse
Quadara, Antonia, Nagy, Vicky, Higgins, Daryl and Siegel, Natalie. (2015). Conceptualising the prevention of child sexual abuse Australia: Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Government.
A public health approach to enhancing safe and supportive family environments for children
Higgins, Daryl J.. (2015). A public health approach to enhancing safe and supportive family environments for children. Family Matters. 96, pp. 39 - 52.
The Stronger Families in Australia (SFIA) study: Phase 2
Edwards, Ben, Mullan, Killian, Katz, Lian and Higgins, Daryl. (2014). The Stronger Families in Australia (SFIA) study: Phase 2 Australia: Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Government.
Complex family issues: Collective awareness, common narratives and coordinated approaches to promoting resilience
Hayes, Alan and Higgins, Daryl. (2014). Complex family issues: Collective awareness, common narratives and coordinated approaches to promoting resilience. In In A. Hayes and D. Higgins (Ed.). Families, policy and the law: Selected essays on contemporary issues for Australia pp. 299 - 303 Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Government.
Weaving a common narrative: An introduction to essays on families, policy and the law in Australia
Hayes, Alan and Higgins, Daryl. (2014). Weaving a common narrative: An introduction to essays on families, policy and the law in Australia. In Families, policy and the law: Selected essays on contemporary issues for Australia pp. 1 - 4 Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Government.
Past adoption practices: Implications for current interventions
Higgins, Daryl. (2014). Past adoption practices: Implications for current interventions. 36(4), pp. 8 - 11.
Contemporary issues in child protection intake, referral and family support
Bromfield, Leah, Arney, Fiona and Higgins, Daryl. (2014). Contemporary issues in child protection intake, referral and family support. In In A. Hayes and D. Higgins (Ed.). Families, policy and the law: Selected essays on contemporary issues for Australia pp. 121 - 129 Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Government.
Reform, (r)evolution and lingering Effects: Family policies in Australia
Higgins, Daryl J.. (2014). Reform, (r)evolution and lingering Effects: Family policies in Australia. In In M. Robila (Ed.). Handbook of family policies across the globe pp. 335 - 353 Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6771-7_22
Past adoption practices: Key messages for service delivery responses and current policies
Kenny, Pauline and Higgins, Daryl. (2014). Past adoption practices: Key messages for service delivery responses and current policies. In In A. Hayes and D. Higgins (Ed.). Families, policy and the law: Selected essays on contemporary issues for Australia pp. 29 - 38 Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Government.
Multi-type maltreatment and polyvictimisation: A comparison of two research frameworks
Price-Robertson, Rhys, Higgins, Daryl J. and Vassallo, Suzanne. (2013). Multi-type maltreatment and polyvictimisation: A comparison of two research frameworks. Family Matters. 93, pp. 84 - 98.
Past adoption experiences: Impacts, insights and implications for policy and practice
Kenny, Pauline, Higgins, Daryl, Sweid, Reem and Soloff, Carol. (2013). Past adoption experiences: Impacts, insights and implications for policy and practice. Children and Families Australia. 7(1), pp. 35 - 46.
Past adoption experiences: Impacts, insights and implications for policy and practice
Kenny, Pauline, Higgins, Daryl, Sweid, Reem and Soloff, Carol. (2013). Past adoption experiences: Impacts, insights and implications for policy and practice. Communities, Children and Families. 7(1), pp. 35 - 46.
Families make all the difference: Helping kids to grow and learn
Baxter, Jennifer, Higgins, Daryl J. and Hayes, Alan. (2012). Families make all the difference: Helping kids to grow and learn. Family Matters. 90, pp. 98 - 105.
Child abuse and neglect in Australia's Northern Territory: The Northern Territory Emergency Response
Higgins, Daryl and Scott, Debbie. (2012). Child abuse and neglect in Australia's Northern Territory: The Northern Territory Emergency Response. In In H. Dubowitz (Ed.). World perspectives on child abuse pp. 69 - 75 International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Contemporary militant extremism: A linguistic approach to scale development
Stankov, Lazar, Higgins, D., Saucier, Gerard and Knezevic, Goran. (2012). Contemporary militant extremism: A linguistic approach to scale development. In In G. J. Boyle, Donald H. Saklofske and G. Matthews (Ed.). Psychological Assessment pp. 41 - 67 SAGE Publications Inc..
Protecting children: Evolving systems
Higgins, Daryl. (2011). Protecting children: Evolving systems. Family Matters.
Unfit mothers... Unjust practices?: Key issues from Australian research on the impact of past adoption practices
Higgins, Daryl J.. (2011). Unfit mothers... Unjust practices?: Key issues from Australian research on the impact of past adoption practices. Family Matters. 87(1), pp. 56 - 67.
Contemporary militant extremism: A linguistic approach to scale development
Stankov, Lazar, Higgins, D., Saucier, G. and Kneszevic, G. (2010). Contemporary militant extremism: A linguistic approach to scale development. Psychological Assessment. 22(2), pp. 246 - 258. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0017372