Environmental and individual attributes associated with child maltreatment resulting in hospitalization or death

Holly Thurston, Bridget Freisthler, Janice Bell, Daniel Tancredi, Patrick S. Romano, Sheridan Miyamoto, Jill G. Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Maltreatment continues to be a leading cause of death for young children. Researchers are beginning to uncover which neighborhood attributes may be associated with maltreatment outcomes. However, few studies have been able to explore these influences while controlling for individual family attributes, and none have been able to parse out the most severe outcomes—injuries resulting in hospitalization or death. This study utilizes a retrospective, case-control design on a dataset containing both individual and environmental level attributes of children who have been hospitalized or died due to maltreatment to explore the relative influence of attributes inside and outside the household walls. Binary conditional logistic regression was used to model the outcome as a function of the individual and environmental level predictors. Separate analyses also separated the outcome by manner of maltreatment: abuse or neglect. Finally, a sub-analysis included protective predictors representing access to supportive resources. Findings indicate that neighborhood attributes were similar for both cases and controls, except in the neglect only model, wherein impoverishment was associated with higher odds of serious maltreatment. Dense housing increased risk in all models except the neglect only model. In a sub-analysis, distance to Family Resource Centers was inversely related to serious maltreatment. In all models, variables representing more extreme intervention and/or removal of the victim and/or perpetrator from the home (foster care or criminal court involvement) were negatively associated with the risk of becoming a case. Medi-Cal insurance eligibility of a child was also negatively associated with becoming a case. Government interventions may be playing a critical role in child protection. More research is needed to ascertain how these interventions assert their influence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-136
Number of pages18
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - May 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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