Is interviewer support associated with the reduced reluctance and enhanced informativeness of alleged child abuse victims?

Uri Blasbalg, Irit Hershkowitz, Michael E. Lamb, Yael Karni-Visel, Elizabeth C. Ahern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Child maltreatment victims are often reluctant to report abuse when formally interviewed. Evidence-based guidelines like the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Standard Investigative Interview Protocol do not adequately address such reluctance because they are focused on cognitive rather than socioemotional strategies. The present study was designed to determine whether the Revised National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Protocol, which emphasizes supportive interviewing more than the standard protocol does, might predict increases in the overall informativeness and reductions in the reluctance of alleged victims. A total of 254 interviews, 166 using the revised protocol and 88 using the standard protocol, were conducted with 4.06- to 13.98-year-old children (M=9.20, SD=2.49) who disclosed multiple incidents of physical abuse by their parents and were thus expected to be more reluctant than victims of extrafamilial abuse. We coded indices of interviewer support and question types, children's reluctance, and informativeness in each utterance during the substantive phases of the interviews. The Revised Protocol was associated with better interviewer support and questioning as well as reduced reluctance and increased informativeness on the part of the children. These findings document the value of training interviewers to attend to the socioemotional needs of suspected abuse victims during investigative interviews.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-165
Number of pages10
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Volume43
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Psychological Association.

Keywords

  • Investigative interviewing
  • Reluctance
  • Revised National Institute of Child Health and Human Development protocol
  • Support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • General Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Law

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