The landscape of UK child protection research between 2010 and 2014: disciplines, topics, and types of maltreatment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Francesca Soliman
  • Kirsteen Mackay
  • Estelle Clayton
  • Andressa Gadda
  • Christine Jones
  • Anna Anderson
  • Derek Jones

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Edinburgh
  • Univ Strathclyde
  • Univ Edinburgh


This paper draws on the results of a commissioned systematic map of UK child protection empirical research published between 2010 and 2014. It analyses current patterns in child protection research in relation to three variables – disciplinary background of authors, types of maltreatment examined, and focus of the research – and considers the relationship between these. It finds first authors' disciplines to be reliable indicators of both the focus and topic of the research, with the dominant fields of psychology, medicine, and social work addressing respectively the long term outcomes of sexual abuse, the short term outcomes of physical abuse, and the care system's response to child maltreatment. The proportion of research dedicated to specific types of maltreatment appears to depend on factors other than their real-world prevalence. Instead, definitional issues and ease of access to research participants appearing to be more influential in determining the topic of the research. UK child protection research appears to show narrow multidisciplinary interaction and little focus on preventative or ameliorative interventions. The development of a coordinated national strategy adopting an interdisciplinary approach in the design and commissioning of child protection research could help maximise research efforts by reducing duplication and potentially facilitating the emergence of more innovative directions.


Original languageEnglish
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Early online date2 Apr 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Apr 2016