A Safe Environment for Every Kid (SEEK): A Model for Primary Care (SEEK)

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT00819702
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : January 9, 2009
Last Update Posted : September 28, 2017
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Howard Dubowitz, University of Maryland

Brief Summary:

Our broad goal is to help prevent child maltreatment (CM) by modifying pediatric practice to be more responsive to prevalent psychosocial needs of many children and families.Training pediatricians to address key risk factors for CM, the Safe Environment for Every Kid (SEEK) model aims to support parenting and family functioning, reducing the risk for CM while helping promote children's health, development and safety. We are building upon the existing pediatric primary care system and strengthening the training of pediatricians. The project also builds on our extensive research and clinical expertise in CM and in prevention (Black & Dubowitz, 1999, Dubowitz et al., 1998, 1999, in press; Dubowitz & Guterman, 2005, Gaudin & Dubowitz, 1997).

We have developed and implemented an enhanced model of pediatric primary care, taking advantage of the enormous opportunities of the existing pediatric primary care system, with its regular contact with young children and parents (Dubowitz & Newberger, 1989; Dubowitz, 1989, 1990; Green, 1994). Pediatricians typically devote over half their time to checkups, focusing on prevention. There is increasing recognition that pediatric care must incorporate aspects of parental and family functioning and collaborate with community resources (Academy of Pediatrics, 1998; Green, 1994b). The broad goal of this project is to implement concepts that have been embraced by the field of pediatrics, but have not been applied and tested.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Child Maltreatment Other: Model Care Not Applicable

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Detailed Description:

The SEEK project, funded by a CDC grant to the Division of Child Protection at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, attempts to offer a comprehensive and practical office-based approach to the identification and assessment of risk factors for child maltreatment, integrated into the delivery of well child health care.

Review of the literature identifies four major risk factors leading to child maltreatment, 1) maternal depression, 2) alcohol and substance abuse, 3) domestic violence, and 4) parental stress and poor coping. The project has several "arms" to address these risk factors. Initially, there is training to help busy primary care providers (PCPs) address the targeted problems in the pediatric office setting. The second phase is the introduction of a brief screening questionnaire into selected well child visits to identify these risk factors in families. If risk factors are present, the PCP will briefly assess the problem. A project social worker is available (by phone or in the office) to help address the problem, and to aid the families in accessing community resources. Another part of the project assesses the validity of the screening questionnaire against several "gold standard" measures used to diagnose the targeted risk problems.

The training focused on the four major factors described. We used realistic office scenarios and offered participants the opportunity to use newly learned management strategies in addressing them. Small group experience with adequate time for processing and practice were utilized. Scheduling was done in conjunction with the participating offices. An advisory committee of practicing community pediatricians and office personnel offered consultation on all phases of the program, as well as strategies to efficiently integrate the program into office practice. The project enlisted 102 PCPs in 18 practices with half serving as controls. Those in the intervention arm received the training. Study health care offices used the one-page SEEK screening questionnaire in their practices. Control pediatricians made no change to their current practice, and continued to provide standard care. Parents were given the questionnaire, in the office, before the 2 and 15 month, and 2, 3, 4, and 5 year well child visits. Questionnaires were completed while the parent waited. Questionnaires were quickly and easily read by the PCPat the visit. Significant issues were briefly assessed and addressed during the visit. The project social worker was available to practices for consultation and for direct intervention with families. "Booster sessions," reviewing the educational and intervention materials were held four times during the 2.5 year study period. PCP knowledge, attitudes, level of comfort and perceived competence regarding the targeted problems were assessed at the beginning and end of the training and at the end of the 2nd and 3rd year.

The central objective of the SEEK project was to examine whether parent functioning was improved by addressing common risk factors for child maltreatment, thus strengthening families and helping prevent maltreatment. A subset of parents in the project practices - intervention and control - were approached to participate in the evaluation of the project. Interest in participating was briefly assessed in the practice. A member of the project team contacted interested parents to fully explain what is involved. Parents who agreed to participate completed a survey (on-line or paper) at three different points. Survey completion took about 60 minutes, for which they were modestly compensated.

In addition, to evaluate the project, members of the project team did a chart review, and directly observed practice behavior. We also asked parents' permission to review Department of Social Services records for possible involvement. All participating pediatricians and practices were invited to share in the conclusions at the end of the project.

The SEEK team hopes that this intervention will be the basis for a new and practical approach to the assessment of serious psychosocial risk factors within the framework of health supervision visits. Ultimately, our hope is that the identification and amelioration of these risk factors will help prevent child maltreatment, and improve the lives of many children and their families. We encourage you to join us in developing an innovative approach to help address psychosocial risk factors in pediatric practice.

Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 905 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Single (Participant)
Primary Purpose: Prevention
Official Title: Preventing Child Maltreatment: A Role for Community Pediatricians
Study Start Date : May 2006
Actual Primary Completion Date : March 2009
Actual Study Completion Date : May 2010

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Model Care
The Model Care approach was implemented in 7 practices, where PCPs were trained to address major risk factors for CM, including maternal depression, alcohol/substance abuse, intimate partner violence, food insecurity, harsh punishment and major stress. We taught how they can be briefly assessed and initially addressed. The initial training consisted of one 4-hour in-person session. Use of the Parent Screening Questionnaire (PSQ) was discussed, as was the importance of applying it universally during regular checkups. PCPs SEEK Parent Handouts on each targeted problem. We held 1-hour booster sessions every 6 months over the subsequent 2.5 years.
Other: Model Care
The Model Care provided training to pediatric health care providers to assess parental psychosocial risk factors to child maltreatment.
No Intervention: Standard Care
PCPs in Standard Care group served as the controls. They continued to practice as usual.

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Parent to Child Conflict Tactics Scale [ Time Frame: Initial contact, 6 months & 12 months after start of study participation ]

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. Department of Human Services, Department of Child Protection records. [ Time Frame: Child's birth through March 2009 ]

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Mother or mother figure accompanying a child under 6 for a regular checkup.
  • Fluent english
  • Mother agrees to participate
  • Health Care provider is provider at involved practice
  • Health Care provider agrees to participate

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Mother is already participating through another child
  • Mother does not speak english
  • Mother declines participation
  • Health Care providers practice is not involved in study
  • Health Care provider declines

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT00819702

United States, Maryland
University of Maryland, School of Medicine
Baltimore, Maryland, United States, 21201
Sponsors and Collaborators
University of Maryland
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Principal Investigator: Howard Dubowitz, MD MS University of Maryland

Responsible Party: Howard Dubowitz, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Maryland Identifier: NCT00819702     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: HP-00040157 (H-27327)
1R49CE000588 ( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
First Posted: January 9, 2009    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: September 28, 2017
Last Verified: September 2017

Keywords provided by Howard Dubowitz, University of Maryland:
child abuse prevention
primary care
professional education in primary care