The expected and the unexpected in recovery and development after abuse and neglect: The role of early foster carer commitment on young children's symptoms of attachment disorders and mental health problems over time

Turner, F., Venturini, E., Kainth, G., Crawford, K., O'Connor, R. , Balestrieri, M., Macdonald, S. and Minnis, H. (2022) The expected and the unexpected in recovery and development after abuse and neglect: The role of early foster carer commitment on young children's symptoms of attachment disorders and mental health problems over time. Child Abuse and Neglect, 127, 105585. (doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2022.105585) (PMID:35279447)

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Abstract

Background: Whilst we know that foster care is better than institutional care for abused and neglected children, we know less about the specific qualities of foster care that are important for their development and recovery from maltreatment effects. Objective: This is the first study to investigate the effects of foster carer commitment on symptoms of Attachment Disorders (AD) and mental health problems in young children post-maltreatment. Participants & setting: 144 children, age 0–5, recently accommodated into foster care as part of an ongoing Randomised Controlled Trial. Methods: Children were assessed using the Disturbances of Attachment Interview and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, then followed up 15 months and 2.5 years thereafter. Commitment of the foster carer was measured by ‘This Is My Baby’ interview. Multiple regression was used to analyse the data. Results: Higher initial foster carer commitment, measured shortly after entry to care, was associated with a reduction in Reactive Attachment Disorder symptoms 15 months after placement, with a modest (non-significant) association persisting 2.5 years later. Initial commitment was not associated with symptoms of Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder at any follow-up time point, nor with symptoms of mental health problems at 15 months. However, higher initial commitment was unexpectedly associated with higher mental health symptom scores at 2.5 years post-accommodation. Conclusions: This study highlights the complex and non-linear development of children in committed foster care, underscoring the need to examine multiple time-points and to consider symptoms of Attachment Disorders separately from those of other mental health problems.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Crawford, Mrs Karen and O'Connor, Professor Rory and Turner, Ms Fiona and Minnis, Professor Helen and Macdonald, Professor Sara and Venturini, Mr Enrico
Authors: Turner, F., Venturini, E., Kainth, G., Crawford, K., O'Connor, R., Balestrieri, M., Macdonald, S., and Minnis, H.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Child Abuse and Neglect
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0145-2134
ISSN (Online):1873-7757
Published Online:10 March 2022

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
190911The Best Services Trial: Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the New Orleans Intervention Model for Infant Mental Health (BeST 2)Helen MinnisNational Institute for Health Research (NIHR)12/211/54HW - Mental Health and Wellbeing