Follow-up protocol was useful for children whose parents attended emergency departments after partner violence, substance abuse or a suicide attempt

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Abstract

Aim

This was a one-year follow-up of families referred to support services after the parents visited the emergency department due to intimate partner violence, substance abuse or a suicide attempt. Its aim was to evaluate the well-being of any children.

Methods

Data on families identified a year earlier by the Amsterdam protocol were gathered from child protective services and parent and child self-reports in two Dutch regions from 2012–2015.

Results

We included 399 children (52%) boys with a median age of eight years (range 1–18) in the study using child protective services data. Of the 101 families who participated in the first measurement, 67 responded one year after the parent's emergency department visit. The results showed that 20% of the children had no or minor problems, voluntary support services were involved in 60% of cases and child protective services were involved in 20%. Compared to their first assessment a year earlier, the children's psychosocial problems had not increased, but this could have been an underestimation due to selective responses.

Conclusion

The Amsterdam protocol was valuable in referring families to voluntary support services, but given the ongoing problems in some families, professionals need to carefully monitor whether support services are sufficiently effective.

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