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Child Abuse & Neglect





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Background: Children and youth with a history of maltreatment experience different developmental, psychiatric and health problems. Ensuring there is streamlined access to services is imperative to their recovery. Yet, few reports of standardized methods for direction and prioritizing risk for children seeking services exist.

Objective: The current study aims to address this gap and explore how mental health personnel triage highly vulnerable cases. Specifically, the goal of the current study is to examine whether experiencing childhood interpersonal trauma predicts service urgency. Participants and Setting: Participants were 19,645 children and youth, ages 4-18 (M = 11.1 SD = 3.4) who completed the interRAI Child and Youth Mental Health Screener (ChYMH-S) at various community-based and residential children’s mental health facilities across Ontario.

Methods: Retrospective data collected from the ChYMH-S was used to explore differences in maltreatment history, gender, and legal guardianship and their impact on service prioritization. Results: Children and youth who are exposed to some form of interpersonal trauma were more likely to have mental health issues requiring urgent follow-up service. Findings also suggested that gender and legal guardianship impact service urgency. Conclusions: Children and youth who have experienced maltreatment are significantly more likely to score high on mental health service urgency than those who have not. This provides valuable insight that can support the development of appropriate system-level changes to policy and practice when servicing children and youth with mental health needs in Canada


Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license ( It is available from the original publisher at:

Marshall, C., Semovski, V., & Stewart, S. L. (2020). Exposure to childhood interpersonal trauma and mental health service urgency. Child Abuse & Neglect, 106.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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