Mandatory reporting of child maltreatment when delivering family-based treatment for eating disorders: A framework analysis of practitioner experiences
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BACKGROUND: Increasingly, evidence-based treatment guidelines emphasize the role of parents in first-line treatment approaches for child and adolescent psychiatric disorders. Yet there are no best practice guidelines for practitioners on the identification and reporting of suspicions and disclosures of child maltreatment to child protection services (CPS) in these circumstances. This is particularly concerning given that undetected and unreported child maltreatment may exacerbate the vulnerabilities of youth with mental illness. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study is to describe family-based practitioners' experiences of reporting child emotional abuse (CEA) and child exposure to intimate partner violence (CEIPV) to CPS. PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: Data from 30 practitioners based in five countries were included in this study. METHODS: We use deductive framework analysis of qualitative interviews with practitioners providing family-based treatment to youth diagnosed with eating disorders. Interviews for the primary study elicited participants' perceptions and experiences of identifying and responding to CEA and CEIPV in practice. All transcripts were analysed by two authors using constructs identified by a qualitative meta-synthesis of mandatory reporting experiences among service providers. RESULTS: Three participants identified as male, 27 as female. Practitioners described negative experiences when reporting CEA and CEIPV to CPS, as well as variable CPS responses to their reports. Findings confirm the need for additional training for mental health practitioners to recognize and report CEA and CEIPV. CONCLUSIONS: Management of CEA and CEIPV while delivering family-based treatment remains an important area of practice that requires further inquiry.
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