Development of an individualized risk calculator for poor functioning in young people victimized during childhood: A longitudinal cohort study

Child Abuse & Neglect

Rachel M.Latham, Alan J.Meehan, Louise Arseneault, Daniel Stahl, Andrea Danese & Helen L. Fisher


Background: Childhood victimization elevates the average risk of developing functional impairment in adulthood. However, not all victimized children demonstrate poor outcomes. Although research has described factors that confer vulnerability or resilience, it is unknown if this knowledge can be translated to accurately identify the most vulnerable victimized children.

Objective: To build and internally validate a risk calculator to identify those victimized children who are most at risk of functional impairment at age 18 years.

Participants: We utilized data from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, a nationally-representative birth cohort of 2232 UK children born in 1994–95.

Methods: Victimization exposure was assessed repeatedly between ages 5 and 12 years along with a range of individual-, family- and community-level predictors. Functional outcomes were assessed at age 18 years. We developed and evaluated a prediction model for psychosocial disadvantage and economic disadvantage using the Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator (LASSO) regularized regression with nested 10-fold cross-validation.

Results: The model predicting psychosocial disadvantage following childhood victimization retained 12 of 22 predictors, had an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.65, and was well-calibrated within the range of 40–70% predicted risk. The model predicting economic disadvantage retained 10 of 22 predictors, achieved excellent discrimination (AUC = 0.80), and a high degree of calibration.

Conclusions: Prediction modelling techniques can be applied to estimate individual risk for poor functional outcomes in young adulthood following childhood victimization. Such risk prediction tools could potentially assist practitioners to target interventions, which is particularly useful in a context of scarce resources.

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