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Child Care Health Dev. 2011 Sep;37(5):613-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2011.01226.x. Epub 2011 Mar 24.

Factors associated with outcomes for looked-after children and young people: a correlates review of the literature.

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School of Health and Related Research, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.


In 2008, the Department of Health made a referral to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and the Social Care Institute for Excellence to develop joint public health guidance on improving the physical and emotional health and well-being of children and young people looked after by the local authority/state. To help inform the decision-making process by identifying potential research questions pertinent to the outcomes of looked-after children and young people (LACYP), a correlates review was undertaken. Iterative searches of health and social science databases were undertaken; searches of reference lists and citation searches were conducted and all included studies were critically appraised. The correlates review is a mapping review conducted using systematic and transparent methodology. Interventions and factors that are associated (or correlated) with outcomes for LACYP were identified and presented as conceptual maps. This review maps the breadth (rather than depth) of the evidence and represents an attempt to use the existing evidence base to map associations between potential risk factors, protective factors, interventions and outcomes for LACYP. Ninety-two studies were included: four systematic reviews, five non-systematic reviews, eight randomized controlled trials, 66 cohort studies and nine cross-sectional studies. The conceptual maps provide an overview of the key relationships addressed in the current literature, in particular, placement stability and emotional and behavioural factors in mediating outcomes. From the maps, there appear to be some key factors that are associated with a range of outcomes, in particular, number of placements, behavioural problems and age at first placement. Placement stability seems to be a key mediator of directional associations. The correlates review identified key areas where sufficient evidence to conduct a systematic review might exist. These were: transition support, training and support for carers and access to services.

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