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Child Maltreat. 2011 Feb;16(1):33-40. doi: 10.1177/1077559510387659. Epub 2010 Dec 3.

A randomized trial of the effects of anonymity and quasi anonymity on disclosure of child maltreatment-related outcomes among postpartum women.

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  • 1Wayne State University, Detroit, M 48202I, USA.


Anonymity may facilitate disclosure of maltreatment-related variables among parents, particularly in the perinatal period. This study was conducted in order to (a) confirm the effect of anonymity on commonly used measures in the field of child maltreatment; (b) examine the extent to which quasi anonymity (in which identifying information is collected but not linked to research data) can also facilitate disclosure on maltreatment-related measures; and (c) examine potential explanatory mechanisms of any association between level of anonymity and disclosure. This study further sought to evaluate these associations in the perinatal period, a crucial point for intervention that is also a time when rates of disclosure may be particularly low. A total of 150 postpartum, primarily African American women were randomly assigned to conditions involving traditional confidentiality, quasi anonymity, or full anonymity. Overall, disclosure on maltreatment-related measures was more than twice as likely for participants in the anonymous condition; quasi anonymity resulted in similar but somewhat smaller increases in disclosure. Anonymous methods may be greatly underutilized in child maltreatment research, and quasianonymous methods show promise as an alternative for longitudinal designs.

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