Viswanathan M, Fraser JG, Pan H, et al. Primary Care Interventions to Prevent Child Maltreatment Updated Evidence Report and Systematic Review for the US Preventive Services Task Force. JAMA.2018;320(20):2129–2140. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.17647
Importance Child maltreatment, also referred to as child abuse and neglect, can result in lifelong negative consequences.
Objective To update the evidence on interventions provided in or referable from primary care to prevent child maltreatment for the US Preventive Services Task Force.
Data Sources PubMed, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, and trial registries through December 18, 2017; references; experts; literature surveillance through July 17, 2018.
Study Selection English-language fair- and good-quality randomized clinical trials that (1) included children with no known exposure to maltreatment and no signs or symptoms of current or past maltreatment, (2) evaluated interventions feasible in a primary care setting or that could result from a referral from primary care, and (3) reported abuse or neglect outcomes or proxies for abuse or neglect (eg, injury with a specificity for abuse, visits to the emergency department, hospitalization).
Data Extraction and Synthesis Two reviewers independently assessed titles/abstracts, full-text articles, and study quality; a third resolved conflicts when needed. When at least 3 similar trials were available, random-effects meta-analyses were conducted.
Main Outcomes and Measures Direct measures (including reports to child protective services and removal of the child from the home) or proxy measures of abuse or neglect; behavioral, emotional, mental, or physical well-being; and harms.
Results Twenty-two trials (33 publications) were included (N = 11 132). No significant association was found between interventions and reports to child protective services within 1 year of intervention completion (10.6% vs 11.9%; pooled odds ratio [OR], 0.94 [95% CI, 0.72-1.23]; 10 trials [n = 2444]) or removal of the child from the home within 1 to 3 years of follow-up (3.5% vs 3.7%; pooled OR, 1.09 [95% CI, 0.16-7.28]; 4 trials [n = 609]). No statistically significant associations were observed between interventions and outcomes for emergency department visits in the short term (<2 years), hospitalizations, child development, school performance, and prevention of death. Nonsignificant results from single trials led to a conclusion of insufficient evidence for injuries, failure to thrive, failure to immunize, school attendance, and other measures of abuse or neglect. Inconsistent results led to a conclusion of insufficient evidence for long-term (≥2 years) outcomes for reports to child protective services (ORs range from 0.48 to 1.13; 3 trials [n = 1690]), emergency department visits (1 of 2 trials reported significant differences) and internalizing and externalizing behavior symptoms (3 of 6 trials reported reductions in behavior difficulties). No eligible trials on harms of interventions were identified.
Conclusions and Relevance Interventions provided in or referable from primary care did not consistently prevent child maltreatment. No evidence on harms is available.