Associations between childhood deaths and adverse childhood experiences: An audit of child death overview panel data.

Associations between childhood deaths and adverse childhood experiences: An audit of child death overview panel data.
Grey Hannah, Ford K, Bellis M & Lowey H.  College of Health and Behavioural Sciences, Bangor University

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their associations with health and social problems in adulthood are a growing area of research in public health across the UK. Relatively little is known about those who may be particularly vulnerable to adversity and what the acute impact of ACEs are on children. Child death overview panels (CDOP) provide invaluable information into a child’s circumstances and experiences before they died and a hope to learn lessons from these children’s lives. An ACE informed audit of CDOP was developed to explore the significance and prevalence of ACEs within children who had died, and interviews were conducted with practitioners to explore their opinions on the concept of ACEs, whether an ACE perspective could be utilised in their work to prevent further child deaths or everyday jobs and whether acknowledging wider determinants would improve the lives of children.

Aims: To determine the prevalence and type of adversity that children who have died may have experienced, as well as establishing links between adversities and causes of death.

Methods: An audit criteria form was created to account for different adversities, including abuse and household problems such as witnessing domestic violence. Information was collected for 489 child death cases covering 4 years’ worth of panel meetings. Interviews are being conducted with professionals from health and social services to discuss whether ACEs could inform and shape their professional perspectives.

Results and conclusion:
This presentation will display the findings from a unique way of utilising CDOP data, covering associations between child death, adversity and demographic information. Preliminary findings have shown that certain causes of death, including suicide, those who have died from abuse and from traumatic accidents, have higher odds ratios of cumulative ACE counts than the general population experience. The presentation will also outline what this information could be used for and the challenges in conducting the audit. This project forms part of a wider PhD exploring ACEs in young and at-risk populations. It is hoped and anticipated that this work will go on to inform further work around learning from the experiences of children who have died, from a multidisciplinary viewpoint – going beyond a medical model of identifying a cause of death to looking at improving the lives of all children.

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