Consistent Utilization of Healthcare Predicts a Reduction in Problem Behaviors in a Population of Children in Foster Care who have Experienced Maltreatment

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Graduate School of Professional Psychology: Doctoral Papers and Masters Projects

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Perkel, Marc Jonathan
Digital Commons @ DU
Health care utilization; child maltreatment; child behavior outcomes; primary medical home; pediatrician; well-child visits; social determinants of health; child abuse and neglect; early violence exposure; problem behaviors; LONGSCAN; ACE; Anticipatory Guidance; Applied Behavior Analysis; Child Psychology; Experimental Analysis of Behavior; Psychology
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Children in foster care exhibit increased problem behaviors due to child maltreatment (abuse and neglect). The healthcare system plays a key role in the prevention and treatment of child maltreatment in the foster care system. Pediatricians typically provide routine screenings and interventions aimed to mitigate negative health outcomes and reduce problem behaviors. This study explored differences in total problem behaviors and frequency of well-child visits between two groups (children in foster care and children reunited with their guardians prior to age four) from the Southwest site of the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect. Independent samples t-tests were used to assess group differences in total problem behaviors and well-child visits. An analysis of covariance was conducted to examine group differences in total problem behaviors using the average number of well-child visits as a covariate. The results revealed that children in foster care received significantly more well-child visits than the children reunited home; however, there was no significant difference in problem behaviors between these two groups of children. This indicates a missed opportunity for intervention to mitigate the effects of child maltreatment. This study thus has important implications for the standard of care, especially when working with sensitive populations like children in foster care.