Untangling the relative contribution of maltreatment severity and frequency to type of behavioral outcome in foster youth

Yo Jackson, Joy Gabrielli, Kandace Fleming, Angela M. Tunno, P. Kalani Makanui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Within maltreatment research, type, frequency, and severity of abuse are often confounded and not always specifically documented. The result is samples that are often heterogeneous in regard to maltreatment experience, and the role of the different components of maltreatment in predicting outcome is unclear. The purpose of the present study was to identify and test the potential unique role of type, frequency, and severity of maltreatment to elucidate each variable's role in predicting outcome behavior. Data from 309 youth in foster care (ages 8-22) and their caregivers were collected using the Modified Maltreatment Classification System and the Behavioral Assessment System for Children, 2nd Edition (BASC2), to measure maltreatment exposure and behavioral outcome respectively. A measurement model of the BASC2 was completed to determine model fit within the sample data. A second confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was completed to determine the unique contributions of frequency and severity of maltreatment across four types of abuse to externalizing, internalizing, and adaptive behavior. The result of the CFA determined good fit of the BASC2 to the sample data after a few modifications. The result of the second CFA indicated that the paths from severity to externalizing behavior and adaptive behavior (reverse loading) were significant. Paths from frequency of abuse were not predictive of behavioral outcome. Maltreatment is a complex construct and researchers are encouraged to examine components of abuse that may be differentially related to outcome behavior for youth. Untangling the multifaceted nature of abuse is important and may have implications for identifying specific outcomes for youth exposed to maltreatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1147-1159
Number of pages13
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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