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Journal of Public Health Management & Practice:
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3182126b6b
Commentary

Public Health Efforts to Build a Surveillance System for Child Maltreatment Mortality: Lessons Learned for Stakeholder Engagement

Smith, Lucia Rojas DrPH, MPH; Gibbs, Deborah MPH; Wetterhall, Scott MD, MPH; Schnitzer, Patricia G. PhD; Farris, Tonya MPH; Crosby, Alex E. MD, MPH; Leeb, Rebecca T. PhD

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Abstract

Context: Reducing the number of largely preventable and tragic deaths due to child maltreatment (CM) requires an understanding of the magnitude of and risk factors for fatal CM and targeted research, policy, and prevention efforts. Public health surveillance offers an opportunity to improve our understanding of the problem of CM. In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded state public health agencies in California, Michigan, and Oregon to implement a model approach for routine and sustainable CM surveillance and evaluated the experience of those efforts.

Objective: We describe the experiences of 3 state health agencies in building collaborations and partnerships with multiple stakeholders for CM surveillance.

Design: Qualitative, structured key informant interviews were carried out during site visits as part of an evaluation of a CDC-funded project to implement a model approach to CM surveillance.

Participants: Key informants included system stakeholders from state health agencies, law enforcement, child protective services, the medical community, and child welfare advocacy groups in the 3 funded states.

Results: Factors that facilitated stakeholder engagement for CM surveillance included the following: streamlining and coordinating the work of Child Death Review Teams (CDRTs); demonstrating the value of surveillance to non–public health partners; codifying relationships with participating agencies; and securing the commitment of decision-makers. Legislative mandates were helpful in bringing key stakeholders together, but it was not sufficient to ensure sustained engagement.

Conclusions: The engagement process yielded multiple benefits for the stakeholders including a deeper appreciation of the complexity of defining CM; a greater understanding of risk factors for CM; and enhanced guidance for prevention and control efforts. States considering or currently undertaking CM surveillance can glean useful insights from the experiences of these 3 states and apply them to their own efforts to engage stakeholders.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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