Mental and Physical Health Profiles of Maltreated Youth

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6 Scopus citations

Abstract

To examine both mental and physical health profiles of children diagnosed as maltreated in the community, we studied diagnoses in the electronic health records (EHRs) of youth assigned maltreatment-related diagnoses (N = 406) and well-matched youth without a maltreatment-related diagnosis (N = 406) during a four-year period in a large healthcare system that covers eight hospitals and over 40 clinics. Data extracted automatically from the EHRs was supplemented by manual chart review. The odds of the maltreated group being assigned a code for mental illness was 2.69 times higher than the odds for the comparison group, with large differences in mood and anxiety disorders and suicidality. The odds of having an injury or poisoning diagnosis were 3.45 times higher in maltreated than in comparison youth. Maltreated youth were also less likely to have been immunized. Nevertheless, contrary to our hypothesis, maltreated youth had significantly lower rates of diagnoses across almost all major physical disease categories assessed and did not differ from comparison youth in terms of body mass index (BMI). Furthermore, maltreated youth were assigned fewer diagnoses than comparison youth whether they came in for at least one preventive visit or not. Findings suggest a need for health care professionals to be prepared to address the high rates of mental disorders in maltreated youth, to be more vigilant about possible physical disorders in this population, and to take greater advantage of opportunities to immunize these youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-33
Number of pages11
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume84
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Keywords

  • abuse
  • immunization
  • maltreatment
  • mental health
  • neglect
  • physical health

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