Unmet health care needs among children of mothers exposed to violence

Christian King, Ahmad Khanijahani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Existing literature shows that maternal exposure to violence has negative consequences on the health and behavioral outcomes of their children, but how it affects unmet child healthcare needs is unknown. Objectives: To examine associations between maternal violence exposure and unmet child healthcare needs in vulnerable families. Participants and setting: We used data from the third and fifth years of Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a birth cohort study of urban children born between 1998 and 2000 n = 2848. Methods: Mothers completed a self-reported questionnaire or interview. Maternal violence exposure was measured through direct (victim) and indirect (witness) exposure. Unmet child healthcare needs was operationalized through: not having seen a doctor when needed, not having a well-child visit in the past year, and never had a dental check-up. Results: In adjusted logistic regression models, children of mothers who were victims of violence were more likely to not have seen a doctor when needed (odds ratio = 3.36, p < 0.01), not have a well-child visit in the past year (odds ratio = 2.50, p < 0.01), and never have a dental check-up (odds ratio = 1.54, p < 0.01). There was no association between maternal witnessing violence and unmet child healthcare needs. Conclusions: In this study of urban children, having a mother who was a victim of violence was associated with unmet healthcare needs. These findings underscore the need to invest in efforts to reduce the prevalence of violence. Such efforts would reduce unmet child healthcare needs in vulnerable families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104363
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Low-income
  • Unmet healthcare needs
  • Violence exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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