The Relationship between Mother’s Child Abuse Potential and Current Mental Health Symptoms: Implications for Screening and Referral

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Mental Health, Substance Abuse, Health Promotion, Mental Health Service, Child Abuse

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This analysis examined data from mothers at 2 of the 9 sites participating in Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA's) national Women Co-occurring Disorders and Violence Study (WCDVS). According to previous literature, it was hypothesized that women in the WCDVS would be at high risk of perpetrating child abuse. This research examined mothers' potential for physical child abuse and assessed the association between child abuse potential, current mental health symptoms, alcohol and drug use severity, and trauma. Results revealed that participants had significant potential for child abuse. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that current mental health symptoms were the strongest predictor of mothers' scores on the Child Abuse Potential (CAP) Inventory. This study highlights the important relationships between commonly used instruments across the mental health, substance, and child welfare fields and the potential dual use of these instruments. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, v. 32, issue 2, p. 155–166