Highlights in child mental health research: July 2018

Prepared by AIFS, 2018

This research summary provides a selection of recently released systematic reviews and meta-analyses related to infant and child mental health and relevant to the work of the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health. Abstracts and links to full-text articles, where available, are provided.

Ameliorating the biological impacts of childhood adversity: A review of intervention programs. (Purewal Boparai, S.K.; Au, V.; Koita, K.; Oh, D.L.; Briner, S.; Burke Harris, N.; Bucci, M.)

Childhood adversity negatively impacts the biological development of children and has been linked to poor health outcomes across the life course. The purpose of this literature review is to explore and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions that have addressed an array of biological markers and physical health outcomes in children and adolescents affected by adversity.

Child Abuse & Neglect

Read the full article here.


When one childhood meets another – maternal childhood trauma and offspring child psychopathology: A systematic review (Plant, D.T.; Pawlby, S.; Pariante, C.M.; Jones, F.W)

Clinical Child Psychology & Psychiatry

Child maltreatment can have a long-term impact on mental health. Less is known about the consequences of child maltreatment on the next generation’s psychological wellbeing. This systematic review aimed to synthesise the existing empirical literature on the association between a mother’s history of maltreatment in her own childhood and her children’s experiences of psychopathology, and to characterise potential mediating pathways.

Read the abstract hereA SAGE Journals account is required to access the full text.


A meta-analysis of Animal Assisted Interventions targeting pain, anxiety and distress in medical settings (Waite, T.C.; Hamilton, L.; O’Brien, W.)

Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice

Research suggests Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI) reduce negative outcomes in medical settings, but quantitative examinations of their effects on medical outcomes such as pain, anxiety, and distress are lacking. A comprehensive literature search and meta-analysis were conducted in which 22 studies (13 child, 9 adult) met inclusion criteria. Both intervention versus control and intervention pre-post effect sizes were computed using a random effects model.

Read the abstract here. A ScienceDirect account is required to access the full text.


Systematic review of organisation‐wide, trauma‐informed care models in out‐of‐home care (OoHC) settings (Bailey, C.; Klas, A.; Cox, R.; Bergmeier, H.; Avery, J.; Skouteris, H.)

Health & Social Care in the Community

A systematic review searching leading databases was conducted for evidence of organisation‐wide, trauma‐informed, out‐of‐home care studies, between 2002 and 2017. Seven articles were identified covering three organisational models. Three of the articles assessed the Attachment Regulation and Competency framework (ARC), one study assessed the Children and Residential Experiences programme (CARE), and three studies assessed The Sanctuary Model. Risk of bias was high in six of the seven studies. Only limited information was provided on the effectiveness of the models identified through this systematic review, although the evidence did suggest that trauma‐informed care models may have significantly positive outcomes for children in OoHC.

Read the abstract here. A Wiley Online Library account is required to access the full text.


Psychosocial factors and behavioral health outcomes among children in Foster and Kinship care: A systematic review (USA) (Washington, T.; Wrenn, A.; Kaye, H.; Priester, M.A.; Colombo, G.; Carter, K.; Shadreck, I.; Hargett, B.A.; Williams, J.A.; Coakley, T.)

Children and Youth Services Review

To fill this knowledge gap, we conducted a systematic review with the aim of developing a better understanding of the psychosocial factors associated with the behavioral health of children in foster and kinship care. Guided by the PRISMA protocol for systematic reviews, we identified relevant literature through searches of 3 electronic databases: Social Work Abstracts, Social Service Abstracts, and PsycINFO.

Read the abstract hereA ScienceDirect account is required to access the full text.


Assessment Tools for the Mental Health of School-Aged Children and Adolescents Exposed to Disaster: A Systematic Review (1988-2015) (Mi-Sun Lee; Soo-Young Bhang)

In this study, we aimed to conduct a systematic review of studies investigating psychosocial factors affecting children exposed to disasters. In total, 140 studies were retrieved. The studies were published from 1988 to 2015. A systematic review was performed using the PRISMA guidelines. MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Central, Web of Science, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Google Scholar were searched. Each database was searched using the following terms: ‘Child,’ ‘Adolescent,’ ‘Youth,’ ‘Disaster,’ ‘Posttraumatic,’ ‘Psychosocial,’ ‘Assessment,’ ‘Evaluation,’ and ‘Screening’. The identified studies were subjected to data extraction and appraisal.

Read the abstract here. A ResearchGate account is required to access the full text.


Using Linked Data to Investigate Developmental Vulnerabilities in Children of Convicted Parents (Australia) (Bell, M.F.; Glauert, R.; Bayliss, D.M.; Ohan, J.L.)

Development Psychology

This study used administrative data on convictions of the parents of 19,071 children aged 5-6 years in Western Australia. Records of parental convictions (starting from 1 year prior to the child’s birth) were linked to children’s scores on the Australian Early Development Census, which is a teacher-reported measure of children’s physical, social, emotional, communicative, and cognitive development. Logistic regression models estimated the odds of children of convicted parents being developmentally vulnerable. Models were adjusted for child, parent, and neighborhood sociodemographic factors.

Read the abstract here. An APA PsycNET Direct account is required to access the full text.


The number of parents who are patients attending adult psychiatric services (Maybery, D.; Reupert, A.E.)

Current Opinion in Psychiatry

Having a parent with a mental illness is a major risk to children’s wellbeing. The first step in developing policies and procedures that could assist these children is to determine the numbers of parents attending adult psychiatric services. This is the first systematic examination of the literature regarding the prevalence and family circumstances of parents attending adult psychiatric services.

Read the abstract here. An Ovid account is required to access the full text.


A more extensive list of recently released research related to child mental health can be found here.

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