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Leveraging Administrative Data to Better Understand and Address Child Maltreatment: A Scoping Review of Data Linkage Studies.

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Das, Shruti 
Anderson, Joanna K 


BACKGROUND: This scoping review aimed to overview studies that used administrative data linkage in the context of child maltreatment to improve our understanding of the value that data linkage may confer for policy, practice, and research. METHODS: We searched MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and ERIC electronic databases in June 2019 and May 2020 for studies that linked two or more datasets (at least one of which was administrative in nature) to study child maltreatment. We report findings with numerical and narrative summary. RESULTS: We included 121 studies, mainly from the United States or Australia and published in the past decade. Data came primarily from social services and health sectors, and linkage processes and data quality were often not described in sufficient detail to align with current reporting guidelines. Most studies were descriptive in nature and research questions addressed fell under eight themes: descriptive epidemiology, risk factors, outcomes, intergenerational transmission, predictive modelling, intervention/service evaluation, multi-sector involvement, and methodological considerations/advancements. CONCLUSIONS: Included studies demonstrated the wide variety of ways in which data linkage can contribute to the public health response to child maltreatment. However, how research using linked data can be translated into effective service development and monitoring, or targeting of interventions, is underexplored in terms of privacy protection, ethics and governance, data quality, and evidence of effectiveness.


Peer reviewed: True


child maltreatment, abuse, neglect, data linkage, administrative data, data analytics, policy, public health, population health, Humans, Child, Risk Factors, Child Abuse, Social Work, Information Storage and Retrieval, Australia

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Child Maltreat

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SAGE Publications
MRC (MR/T046430/1)
Medical Research Council (G108/625)
Medical Research Council (MC_PC_21025)
The research in this paper was supported by a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to ES (OPP1144), the Anna Freud Clinical Lectureship in Child Psychiatry to AM, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration East of England, and the NIHR Children and Families Policy Research Unit. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health.