A constructivist grounded theory study of collaboration in multidisciplinary teams responsible for child abuse investigations

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University of Alabama Libraries

The multidisciplinary team response to child abuse emerged during the 1980's in response to increasing numbers of child abuse reports and the need to coordinate existing community resources more efficiently. This study investigates how multidisciplinary team members perceived collaboration and its effects upon team functioning in child abuse investigations. Using a grounded theory approach, a diverse sample of child protective service workers, law enforcement investigators, medical and mental health professionals, and prosecuting attorneys from four states were interviewed face-to-face about their perceptions of collaborating with different agencies responsible for child abuse investigations. The study revealed that effective multidisciplinary teams rely upon collaborative relationships. The ability of team members to work together affects not only how teams function but also informs investigative outcomes and hence services to children and families. The findings indicated that study participants face challenges such as dealing with differing agency policies and procedures and how the development of collaborative relationships mitigate these circumstances. Study findings hold implications for professionals responsible for responding to reports of suspected child abuse, as well as social work educators in preparing students to practice in a multidisciplinary team environment through understanding the development of collaborative relationships.

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Social work