The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has awarded a research team at Georgia State University's School of Public Health a $2.2 million grant to study the effectiveness of different approaches to reducing child abuse and neglect.
Child maltreatment is a major public health problem, with more than 6.3 million children reported to state protective service systems for suspected abuse in 2012. Adults with a history of maltreatment have a higher risk for a range of health problems, including depression and other chronic diseases such as diabetes, stroke and cancer.
Dr. Daniel Whitaker, a professor of health promotion and behavior, is the principal investigator for the three-year project. The project will compare the SafeCare© model, which teaches parenting skills, to the standard approach used in child welfare services, supportive case management, which focuses on providing social and emotional support for parents, along with parenting advice, crisis management and referrals for other services. The National SafeCare© Training and Research Center is in the School of Public Health.
The project will be done at eight sites around the country. The study will assess the relative effectiveness of the two approaches for improving parent and child well-being and reducing maltreatment risk and recidivism. The study will also assess parents' satisfaction with services.
"This is an important project that will allow us to examine how families respond to these two different types of service models," Whitaker said. "There is some data that behavioral parenting reduces child maltreatment re-reports, but this project will allow us to look at family responses more closely with a focus on health and well-being across several sites."
The study is one of 29 proposals of 220 applications PCORI approved for funding to advance the field of comparative clinical effectiveness research and provide patients, healthcare providers and other clinical decision-makers with information that will help them make better-informed choices.
"This project was selected for PCORI funding not only for its scientific merit and commitment to engaging patients and other stakeholders, but also for its potential to fill an important gap in our health knowledge and give people information to help them weigh the effectiveness of their care options," said PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby. "We look forward to following the study's progress and working with Georgia State's School of Public Health to share the results."
Whitaker's study and the other projects approved for PCORI funding were selected through a highly competitive review process in which patients, clinicians, and other stakeholders joined clinical scientists to evaluate the proposals.
PCORI is an independent, non-profit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund comparative clinical effectiveness research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the information needed to make better-informed health and healthcare decisions.