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Assembling a cohort for in-depth, longitudinal assessments of the biological embedding of child maltreatment: Methods, complexities, and lessons learned

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 May 2021

Hannah M. C. Schreier*
Affiliation:
Child Maltreatment Solutions Network, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA Department of Biobehavioral Health, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
Christine M. Heim
Affiliation:
Child Maltreatment Solutions Network, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA Department of Biobehavioral Health, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), Institute of Medical Psychology, Berlin, Germany
Emma J. Rose
Affiliation:
Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
Idan Shalev
Affiliation:
Child Maltreatment Solutions Network, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA Department of Biobehavioral Health, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
Chad E. Shenk
Affiliation:
Child Maltreatment Solutions Network, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA Department of Pediatrics, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA, USA
Jennie G. Noll
Affiliation:
Child Maltreatment Solutions Network, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
*
Author for Correspondence: Hannah M. C. Schreier, Department of Biobehavioral Health, 219 Biobehavioral Health Building, University Park, PA, 16802; E-mail: hannah.schreier@psu.edu.

Abstract

As championed by the work of Ed Zigler, investing in nurturing environments for all children is a chief tenet of primary prevention that will have far-reaching benefits to the health and welfare of all members of society. Children who endure child maltreatment (CM) are among society's most vulnerable. Prospective longitudinal research aimed at a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms linking CM to subsequent adverse health consequences is needed to improve outcomes and to strengthen causal inference. This paper outlines the methods of the Child Health Study (CHS), a large, state-wide longitudinal cohort of recently maltreated and nonmaltreated youth aged 8–13 who will be assessed every 2 years. The CHS is designed to include in-depth assessments of multiple environmental, behavioral, neural, physiological, and molecular mechanisms through which CM may impact a broad spectrum of youth development, including behavioral and physical health outcomes. In addition to describing the conceptual framework and methods underlying the CHS, we provide information on valuable “lessons learned” in the hopes of supporting future research efforts facing similar challenges. The ultimate goal of this research is demonstrating how policies regarding CM impact the well-being, resilience and recovery of survivors and that they are worthy of large public investment.

Type
Special Issue Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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