Jun 29, 2021

Identifying research gaps in child institutional maltreatment

Study found that evidence is limited

In partnership with Campbell Collaboration, Giving Evidence and Monash University, CEI has developed an evidence and gap map (EGM) on child institutional maltreatment. This research was funded by Porticus Foundation. Institutional maltreatment is the type of maltreatment occurring in settings like places of education, foster care, religious institutions, clubs and health care settings.

Child maltreatment affects millions globally and research on effective interventions is not readily available to stakeholders. The EGM is the first of its kind on this topic, capturing the existing evidence evaluating the effectiveness of interventions targeting the prevention, disclosure, response to, and treatment of institutional child maltreatment

This EGM is a step forward for policymakers and practitioners because it showcases that the evidence supporting interventions addressing institutional child maltreatment is limited.

Donors and policymakers can actively contribute to the development of understanding of what works in this space, and the work highlights a “substantial need for more high-quality studies that evaluate interventions across a broader range of institutional contexts and maltreatment types.” This evidence and gap map can play an important role in guiding research and giving in the sector in years to come.

A plain text summary of the findings can be found here.

The EGM found that most studies evaluated curriculum-based interventions delivered in educational settings, aimed at preventing sexual abuse, and fewer studies examined other organisational settings, such as out-of-home care settings. No studies explicitly assessed sports clubs, religious organisations, juvenile justice, or health care settings. Most interventions targeted children rather than adults, and few studies included populations known to be at risk, or those already exposed to maltreatment.

The EGM also found that the evidence does not cover countries with the highest incidence of child maltreatment. It also found few studies focused on perpetrators or the organisational environment, and identified evidence gaps for disclosure, organisational responses and treatment interventions. The EGM also identified a need for more research on program implementation.

An EGM provides an overview of existing evidence in an area of research, set out in a matrix format in which rows display the interventions and columns display outcomes. They highlight how much a topic has been rigorously studied and, typically, how reliable the findings of these studies are.


Finch, M., Featherston, R., Chakraborty, S., Bjørndal, L., Mildon, R., Albers, B., Fiennes, C., Taylor, D. J. A., Schachtman, R., Yang, T., & Shlonsky, A. (2021). Interventions that address institutional child maltreatment: evidence and gap map. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 17( 1), e1139. https://doi.org/10.1002/cl2.1139.