BarnSäkert : Studies of the Safe Environment for Every Kid model in the Swedish Child Health Services for early identification of psychosocial risk factors in the home environment of young children

Sammanfattning: Psychosocial risk factors in the home environment may impair children’s health and development and increase the risk of child maltreatment. The Swedish child health services (CHS), provide health-promoting and primary preventive services for all children 0-6 years of age. However, the national CHS lack evidence-based tools to universally screen for the most common psychosocial risk factors. The Safe Environment for Every Kid (SEEK) model provides a method for identifying children who live in families with economic worries, depressive symptoms, parental stress, intimate partner violence (IPV) and alcohol misuse in order to offer relevant support and assistance to the family.  The overarching aim of this thesis was to assess validity, clinical utility and outcomes of the Safe Environment for Every Kid model when applied in the Swedish Child Health Services setting. The SEEK model has been tested in a cluster randomized controlled trial within the CHS in the county of Dalarna. Studies I and II examined CHS nurses’ perception of their routine assessment of psychosocial risk factors in the family environment as well as their self-reported competence and the present organizational conditions in this context. Both studies used the same mixed method design, including surveys and focus group interviews. Study II analyzed the experiences of CHS nurses using the SEEK model in contrast to those using current standard practice. CHS nurses had extensive experience in dealing with the targeted risk factors, but using the SEEK model strengthened their sense of competence in identifying and responding to the needs of families with such problems. Using the SEEK model seems to have narrowed the gap between the nurses’ perception that it is both important and suitable to address psychosocial risk factors within the CHS and their previously limited ability to do so.  Study III evaluated the psychometric properties of the Swedish version of the Parent Screening Questionnaire (PSQ-S) using data from surveys answered by parents (n=611). The PSQ-S was compared to standardized instruments for the targeted psychosocial risk factors. The PSQ-S showed a sensitivity of 93%, specificity of 52% and a positive and negative predictive values of 67% and 87%, respectively.  Study IV examined the self-reported rates of the targeted risk factors among parents who completed the PSQ-S at age-specific CHS visits during the intervention period. A total of 7483 PSQ-S were analysed. Over half of the PSQ-S had a positive screen for at least one risk factor. The problems were common throughout the child’s first five years of life and were about as common among mothers and fathers. The proportion of PSQ-S with a positive screen decreased significantly from the beginning to the end of the intervention.The results suggest that the SEEK model, as applied in these studies, shows a high degree of validity and clinical utility in the CHS setting. The experience of SEEK nurses showed that the model was helpful in their daily work. There is room for improvement with respect to sensitivity regarding IPV and how the nurses address parents with alcohol misuse. Many parents were willing to disclose the targeted risk factors in the context of the CHS visits and use of the SEEK model likely provided opportunities for assistance that may otherwise have been missed.