Objectives To quantify the concordance of hospital child maltreatment data with child protection service (CPS) records, and identify factors associated with linkage.
Methods Multivariable logistic regression analysis was conducted following retrospective medical record review and database linkage of 884 child records from 20 hospitals and the CPS in Queensland, Australia.
Results Nearly all children with hospital assigned maltreatment codes (93.1%) had a CPS record. Of these, 85.1% had a recent notification. 29% of the linked maltreatment group (n=113) were not known to the CPS prior to the hospital presentation. Almost one third of children with unintentional injury hospital codes were known to the CPS. Just over 24% of the linked unintentional injury group (n=34) were not known to the CPS prior to the hospital presentation but became known during or after discharge from hospital. These estimates are higher than the 2006/2007 annual rate of 2.39% of children being notified to the CPS. Rural children were more likely to link to the CPS, and children were over three times more likely to link if the index injury documentation included additional diagnoses or factors affecting their health.
Conclusions The system for referring maltreatment cases to the CPS is generally efficient, although up to 1 in 15 children had codes for maltreatment but could not be linked to CPS data. The high proportion of children with unintentional injury codes who linked to CPS suggests that clinicians and hospital-based child protection staff should be supported by further education and training to ensure children at risk are being detected by the child protection system.
- Child maltreatment
- data linkage
- child protection
- health services
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Funding This work was supported by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (grant number LP0882093), with industry partner support from the Department of Communities, Queensland Health and Abused Child Trust.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Queensland University of Technology, the Queensland Health Department, and all participating hospital districts.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.