Critical interpretive synthesis: Child protection involvement for families with domestic and family violence, alcohol and other drug issues, and mental health issues
Recent Australian research suggests that domestic and family violence (DFV) often co-occurs with parental alcohol and other drug issues (AOD) and mental health issues (MH) in reports of child abuse or neglect. It further suggests that the co-reporting of these three risk factors often precipitates child protection involvement. Given the reported prevalence an co-occurrence of DFV, AOD and MH in families embroiled in child protection systems in overseas jurisdictions (primarily the United Kingdom and United States), it is important to understand how these factors operate and interact to impact children and families in an Australian context.
This report presents findings from Stage 1 of a larger national project entitled, “Analysis of linked longitudinal administrative data on child protection involvement for NSW families with domestic and family violence, drug and alcohol issues and mental health issues”. In this report, the researchers critically examine the evidence base for both the prevalence and intersection of DFV, AOD and MH in a child protection context in order to provide key context for the subsequent data analyses to be undertaken in Stage 2 of this project. By using a critical interpretive synthesis, the researchers were able to interrogate both Australian and international academic and grey literature on the intersections of DFV, AOD and MH in the context of child protection.
The research found that the evidence base for the prevalence and impacts of co-occurring or intersecting DFV, AOD and MH is marred by definitional inconsistencies. There is also a lack of theoretical grounding; and an overreliance on the presence of DFV, AOD and MH factors to the exclusion of other interrelated variables (socioeconomic or environmental or contextual factors) and risk and protective factors. They also found an overall dearth of empirical research undertaken in Australian jurisdictions, which undermines any confidence in existing evidence regarding both the prevalence and implications of DFV, AOD and MH in families involved in child protection in an Australian context.
This work is part of the ANROWS Research reports series. ANROWS Research reports are in-depth reports on empirical research produced under ANROWS’s research program.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AMY CONLEY WRIGHT
Director, Research Centre for Children and Families, The University of Sydney
Research Assistant, Research Centre for Children and Families, The University of Sydney
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR SUSAN HEWARD-BELLE
Associate Director, Research Centre for Children and Families, The University of Sydney
DR SUSAN COLLINGS
Research Fellow, Research Centre for Children and Families, The University of Sydney
DR EMMA BARRETT
Program Lead in Trauma and Crime Research, The Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use, The University of Sydney
978-1-922645-09-8 (paperback) | 978-1-922645-08-1 (PDF)
Conley Wright, A., Metcalfe, L., Heward-Belle, S., Collings, S., & Barrett, E. (2021). Critical interpretive synthesis: Child protection involvement for families with domestic and family violence, alcohol and other drug issues, and mental health issues (Research report, 06/2021). ANROWS.