Investigating the mental health of children exposed to domestic and family violence through the use of linked police and health records
The overarching aim of this project was to identify the mental health service use and diagnoses of children exposed to DFV in Western Australia from 1987 to 2017.
This retrospective cohort study used police and health records to identify children exposed to DFV in Western Australia. The mental health outcomes for children who had been exposed to DFV were then compared with a group of children who had no known record of DFV.
Administrative records from government and non-government departments were merged to investigate differences in the mental health service use and diagnoses of children who had been exposed to DFV. The study also ascertained differences in mental health service use and diagnosis types based on sociodemographic characteristics.
This project generates a detailed understanding of the impact of DFV, and new insights into the effect of DFV on children’s mental health.
Findings can be used to inform policy and best practice in mental health service provision, DFV responses to children and mental health prevention efforts. They can also enable more targeted interventions to benefit children experiencing DFV, their families and their communities, as well as cross-jurisdictional mental health services and government agencies.
The findings of this research respond to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s call for increased data on the long-term outcomes for children who have experienced DFV.
Dr Carol Orr, Research Fellow, School of Population and Global Health, The University of Western Australia
Professor Colleen Fisher, Head of School, School of Population and Global Health, The University of Western Australia
Professor David Preen, Chair in Public Health, School of Population and Global Health, The University of Western Australia
Professor Helen Milroy, Chair in Child Mental Health, Medical School, Division of Psychiatry, The University of Western Australia
Associate Professor Melissa O’Donnell, Australian Centre for Child Protection, The University of South Australia
Associate Professor Rebecca Glauert, Head of Developmental Pathways and Social Policy, Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Western Australia
Dr Shae Garwood, Manager, Research, Advocacy & Prevention Innovation & Strategy, Anglicare, Western Australia
This project is funded by Australian Commonwealth, state and territory governments under ANROWS’s 2020–2022 Core Grant round.
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