Discrepancies in youth self-report and case file report of maltreatment and association with internalizing and externalizing symptoms

Daryl T. Cooley, Yo Jackson, Mike Stoolmiller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Childhood maltreatment is a potential risk factor for the later development of psychopathology (Jaffee, 2017). However, there is no gold standard for identifying victims of child maltreatment, and when multiple informants – such as case files and youth self-report – are used, these sources often disagree (Cooley & Jackson, 2022). Objective: The current study aimed to explore discrepancies between youth self-report and case file report of maltreatment and examine how these discrepancies related to internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Participants/setting: Participants were 470 youth living in foster care between the ages of 8 and 18 and their caregivers. Methods: Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to create novel groups based on informant discrepancies. Results: Agreement between informants was in the poor-to-fair agreement range for all types of maltreatment. Latent class analysis identified a 3-class solution with significant group differences on both externalizing (Χ2 (2, N = 470) = 6.16, p = 0.05) and internalizing symptoms (Χ2 (2, N = 470) = 6.10, p = 0.05). Specifically, those in the “self-report only” class had significantly higher symptoms than those in the “neither informant/case file only” class for both internalizing and externalizing behavior. Conclusions: Case files and youth self-report of maltreatment are discrepant. Youth self-report of maltreatment history may be more closely linked to psychopathology than case file report of maltreatment. Researchers and practitioners should look to youth self-report rather than relying solely on case files when determining risk for psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105845
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume133
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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