- Predicting child maltreatment: A meta-analysis of the predictive validity of risk assessment instruments
- Child Abuse & Neglect
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)
Risk assessment is crucial in preventing child maltreatment since it can identify high-risk cases in need of child protection intervention. Despite widespread use of risk assessment instruments in child welfare, it is unknown how well these instruments predict maltreatment and what instrument characteristics are associated with higher levels of predictive validity. Therefore, a multilevel meta-analysis was conducted to examine the predictive accuracy of (characteristics of) risk assessment instruments. A literature search yielded 30 independent studies (N = 87,329) examining the predictive validity of 27 different risk assessment instruments. From these studies, 67 effect sizes could be extracted. Overall, a medium significant effect was found (AUC = 0.681), indicating a moderate predictive accuracy. Moderator analyses revealed that onset of maltreatment can be better predicted than recurrence of maltreatment, which is a promising finding for early detection and prevention of child maltreatment. In addition, actuarial instruments were found to outperform clinical instruments. To bring risk and needs assessment in child welfare to a higher level, actuarial instruments should be further developed and strengthened by distinguishing risk assessment from needs assessment and by integrating risk assessment with case management.
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