The NICHD interview protocol used by Dutch child protection workers: Effects on interview style, children's reported information and susceptibility to suggestion

Brenda Erens, Henry Otgaar, Corine de Ruiter, Danique van Bragt, Irit Hershkowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the Netherlands, there is currently no quality standard for conducting child forensic interviews in Child Protective Services (CPS). The lack of such standard causes concern regarding the quality of these interviews, which are used to determine the child's safety and implementing treatment. In the current study, we implemented the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) protocol at Safe Home, the Dutch national reporting agency for child abuse and domestic violence. Professionals at Safe Home received a three-day training in the NICHD protocol with regular follow-up feedback sessions. We compared 38 NICHD interviews with 30 control interviews on variables such as the type of questions asked, number of reported words, and children's mood state. NICHD interviews contained more invitations and fewer suggestive questions compared to non-standardized interviews. Furthermore, children reported more information related to the reported incident when they were interviewed with the NICHD protocol compared to control interviews. After being interviewed, children reported a more positive mood state independent of how they were interviewed (NICHD or control interview). Finally, children interviewed with the NICHD protocol were less likely to succumb to suggestive probes provided after the interview than children in the control group. We argue that child protection professionals need training in an evidence-based interview protocol to improve fact-finding in CPS.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a research grant from The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw grant number 70‐74100‐98‐004) to Corine de Ruiter and by the Sara van Dam grant (KNAW/WF/3197/SD1707) to Henry Otgaar. The authors would like to thank all professionals of Safe Home who participated in the current study and collected data. Also, a special thanks to the Master students who assisted with this study, Marieke van Doormalen and Joke Humblet.

Funding Information:
Sara van Dam grant, Grant/Award Number: KNAW/WF/3197/SD1707; ZonMw, Grant/Award Number: 70‐74100‐98‐004; The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development Funding information

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Applied Cognitive Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • NICHD protocol
  • child abuse investigation
  • child forensic interviewing
  • child protection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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