A narrow focus in research on emotional abuse : A scoping review of definitions and descriptions on emotional abuse in research on child welfare and social work
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionNess, S. (2022). A narrow focus in research on emotional abuse: A scoping review of definitions and descriptions on emotional abuse in research on child welfare and social work. Child & Family Social Work. doi: 10.1111/cfs.12967
Previous research argues that emotional abuse (EA) is not as well understood as other forms of abuse and that it poses a challenge to professionals concerned with the well-being of children. The aim of this scoping review is to explore how EA is defined and described in peer-reviewed studies in the context of child welfare and social work. The electronic databases PsycINFO, Web of Science, Social services abstract, Scopus and Medline were searched to identify studies. Twenty-six recently published studies that provided a sufficient definition or description of EA were included in the review. Findings were analysed using thematic synthesis. The results indicate a varying and somewhat inconsistent terminology when labelling EA and that definitions and descriptions of EA mainly are gathered from quantitative research. Moreover, the results reveal a lack of research from the perspective of children and youth in contact with CWS and from child welfare workers. Such research may expand current knowledge of the definitions and descriptions on EA by providing a more nuanced understanding of how children and youth experience EA, and elaborate on their susceptibility and resilience in relation to their experiences of EA.