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Psychotherapeutic care for sexually-victimized children: Do service providers meet the need? Multilevel analysis


Weber, Sabine; Landolt, Markus A; Maier, Thomas; Mohler-Kuo, Meichun; Schnyder, Ulrich; Jud, Andreas (2017). Psychotherapeutic care for sexually-victimized children: Do service providers meet the need? Multilevel analysis. Children and Youth Services Review, 73:165-172.

Abstract

Objectives Surprisingly little is known on the decision to refer sexually-victimized children to psychotherapy. Previous research on service provisions for victims of child maltreatment has analyzed the impact of case characteristics, like child or caregiver functional levels, lack of social support, and socioeconomic status. Findings, however, show that the decision to provide services is not only needs-driven, but also affected by external factors like provincial legislation, institutional policies, and the availability and accessibility of services. By analyzing characteristics behind the decision to refer sexually-victimized children to psychotherapy at the case and institutional level, we aimed to disentangle the complex interplay of factors driving this decision.
Methods The data for this analysis were drawn from the first nationally-representative agency survey on reported child sexual victimization (CSV) in Switzerland. Over a 6-month data-collection period, 165 child protective services, 87 penal authorities and 98 agencies in the health and social sector documented a total of 911 incidents of CSV. Multilevel logistic regression was applied to analyze factors at both the case and contextual level.
Results The main finding was that the severity of consequences was strongly associated with the probability of psychotherapeutic service referrals (OR = 10.4; p < 0.001). However, one bias was identified at the individual level: sexually-victimized children born in Switzerland were more likely to be referred to psychotherapy than immigrant children. Institutional disparities in the decision to refer a sexually-victimized child to psychotherapy were large (median OR = 3.83), with penal authorities referring significantly fewer cases to psychotherapy than specialized agencies in the health and social sector. What exactly was driving the difference between psychotherapy referral in different types of agency remains largely unexplained.
Conclusions Future research should invest in scrutinizing contextual factors of child protective service decisions. As we operationalize the need for psychotherapy as proxy-rated consequences of victimization, routine screening for mental health needs using standardized measures for children in contact with child protection agencies should be implemented, to help frontline workers to identify the psychotherapeutic needs of victimized children.

Abstract

Objectives Surprisingly little is known on the decision to refer sexually-victimized children to psychotherapy. Previous research on service provisions for victims of child maltreatment has analyzed the impact of case characteristics, like child or caregiver functional levels, lack of social support, and socioeconomic status. Findings, however, show that the decision to provide services is not only needs-driven, but also affected by external factors like provincial legislation, institutional policies, and the availability and accessibility of services. By analyzing characteristics behind the decision to refer sexually-victimized children to psychotherapy at the case and institutional level, we aimed to disentangle the complex interplay of factors driving this decision.
Methods The data for this analysis were drawn from the first nationally-representative agency survey on reported child sexual victimization (CSV) in Switzerland. Over a 6-month data-collection period, 165 child protective services, 87 penal authorities and 98 agencies in the health and social sector documented a total of 911 incidents of CSV. Multilevel logistic regression was applied to analyze factors at both the case and contextual level.
Results The main finding was that the severity of consequences was strongly associated with the probability of psychotherapeutic service referrals (OR = 10.4; p < 0.001). However, one bias was identified at the individual level: sexually-victimized children born in Switzerland were more likely to be referred to psychotherapy than immigrant children. Institutional disparities in the decision to refer a sexually-victimized child to psychotherapy were large (median OR = 3.83), with penal authorities referring significantly fewer cases to psychotherapy than specialized agencies in the health and social sector. What exactly was driving the difference between psychotherapy referral in different types of agency remains largely unexplained.
Conclusions Future research should invest in scrutinizing contextual factors of child protective service decisions. As we operationalize the need for psychotherapy as proxy-rated consequences of victimization, routine screening for mental health needs using standardized measures for children in contact with child protection agencies should be implemented, to help frontline workers to identify the psychotherapeutic needs of victimized children.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:11 Jan 2017 15:50
Last Modified:14 Mar 2017 14:14
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0190-7409
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2016.12.015

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