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Utility and Challenges of Using ICD Codes in Child Maltreatment Research: A Review of Existing Literature

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 33 Issue: 11 Dated: November 2009 Pages: 791-808
Debbie Scott; Lil Tonmyr; Jenny Fraser; Sue Walker; Kirsten McKenzie
Date Published
November 2009
18 pages
This review explores the extent to which the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) has been used in child abuse research.
The literature review highlights both the utility and challenges of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) coded data. ICD codes have been widely used to conduct research into child abuse in health data systems. The codes appear to be used primarily to identify diagnoses and conduct further research to identify child abuse patterns within those diagnoses and/or identify instances of child abuse by using the ICD codes assigned for maltreatment or external cause of assault and conduct the research on those children identified as being abused. However, a significant limitation to the use of ICD codes alone in child abuse research is that child maltreatment has been found to be underestimated. This study illustrates that quality and consistency of data underpin research initiatives in providing data to monitor and evaluate the incidence of child abuse. The ICD is the standard system used to classify health conditions in health datasets, such as morbidity and mortality data. This paper reviews the use of ICD in child abuse research: how is the ICD used in child abuse research in health databases; how has the ICD system been applied; and what factors have been identified that affect the reliability of ICD coded data in child abuse research? Tables and references