Measuring child maltreatment using multi-informant survey data: a higher-order confirmatory factor analysis.


Objective To investigate the validity and reliability of a multi-informant approach to measuring child maltreatment (CM) comprising seven questions assessing CM administered to children and their parents in a large community sample. Methods Our sample comprised 2,512 children aged 6 to 12 years and their parents. Child maltreatment (CM) was assessed with three questions answered by the children and four answered by their parents, covering physical abuse, physical neglect, emotional abuse and sexual abuse. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to compare the fit indices of different models. Convergent and divergent validity were tested using parent-report and teacher-report scores on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Discriminant validity was investigated using the Development and Well-Being Assessment to divide subjects into five diagnostic groups: typically developing controls (n = 1,880), fear disorders (n = 108), distress disorders (n = 76), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (n = 143) and oppositional defiant disorder/conduct disorder (n = 56). Results A higher-order model with one higher-order factor (child maltreatment) encompassing two lower-order factors (child report and parent report) exhibited the best fit to the data and this model’s reliability results were acceptable. As expected, child maltreatment was positively associated with measures of psychopathology and negatively associated with prosocial measures. All diagnostic category groups had higher levels of overall child maltreatment than typically developing children. Conclusions We found evidence for the validity and reliability of this brief measure of child maltreatment using data from a large survey combining information from parents and their children.