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BMJ. 2001 Jul 28;323(7306):210-3.

The health of children in refuges for women victims of domestic violence: cross sectional descriptive survey.

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1
Department of Child Health, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff CF14 4XW.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To describe the health and developmental status of children living in refugees for women victims of domestic violence and to investigate their access to primary healthcare services.

DESIGN:

Cross sectional survey.

SETTING:

Women's refugees in Cardiff.

PARTICIPANTS:

148 resident children aged under 16 years and their mothers.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Completeness of records on the child health system (register of all children that includes data on the child's health) for named health visitor, named general practitioner, and immunisation uptake; satisfactory completion of child health surveillance; Denver test results for developmental status; Rutter test scores for behavioural and emotional problems; reports of maternal concerns.

RESULTS:

148/257 (58%) children living in refugee between April 1999 and January 2000 were assessed. Child health system data were incorrect (general practitioner and/or address) or unavailable for 85/148 (57%) children. Uptake of all assessments and immunisations was low. 13/68 (19%) children aged <5 years had delayed or questionable development on the Denver test, and 49/101 (49%) children aged 3-15 years had a Rutter score of >10 (indicating probable mental health problems). Concerns were expressed by mothers of 113/148 (76%) children. After leaving the refuge, 22 children were untraceable and 36 returned home to the perpetrator from whom the families had fled.

CONCLUSIONS:

The children had a high level of need, as well as poor access to services. Time spent in a refuge provides a window of opportunity to review health and developmental status. Specialist health visitors could facilitate and provide support, liaison, and follow up.

Comment in

PMID:
11473915
PMCID:
PMC35275
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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