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Comment & Response
July 10, 2019

Considering the Source of Information in the Evaluation of Maltreatment Experiences

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Münster, Münster, Germany
JAMA Psychiatry. 2019;76(9):984-985. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.1688

To the Editor The recent study by Baldwin and colleagues1 presents meta-analytic findings of overall poor agreement between prospective and retrospective assessments of childhood maltreatment experiences. In addition to the various explanatory factors that are either directly investigated or discussed by the authors, we would like to highlight the notion that assessment instruments (eg, records, interview, questionnaire) and the source of information (eg, self-report vs external assessment by parent, teacher, child protective services, medical records) vary systematically depending on the time of assessment (ie, prospective vs retrospective). Of note, prospective assessments of the studies included in the meta-analysis comprise all mentioned assessment methods and sources of information, while in contrast retrospective assessments were based solely on self-reports (ie, interviews or questionnaires). Importantly, Baldwin et al1 did conduct moderation analyses to investigate the potential confounding effect of assessment instrument. However, no corresponding analysis is reported to assess a potential moderating effect of the source of information (ie, self-report vs external assessment) on assessment agreement.