• Presentation

Mandatory Reporting: Potential Effects on Retention Rates in a Longitudinal Survey


Fuller, K. J., Smith, K. R., Dolan, M., & Cohen, L. M. (2010, May). Mandatory Reporting: Potential Effects on Retention Rates in a Longitudinal Survey. Presented at AAPOR 2010, .


Protection of human subjects, particularly members of at-risk or vulnerable populations, is an essential concern for survey researchers and the Institutional Review Boards that govern them. Little is known, however, about the effects of mandatory reporting of suspected abuse or neglect on retention rates in field data collection studies.

This paper examines the impact of mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse on retention rates in an at-risk sample. The National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW) is a national, longitudinal study of children and families who have come into contact with the child welfare system. Mandated by Congress in 1996, this study is sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Five waves of interview data were collected from the first cohort, NSCAW I. A second cohort was drawn in 2008, with NSCAW II now in its second wave of data collection. Data from both cohorts will be considered in evaluations.

The few studies examining mandatory reporting effects on retention rates suggest limited risk for negative impact on retention. This paper will analyze retention rates of NSCAW respondents in waves following a mandatory report, and whether demographic characteristics (e.g., child gender, child and caregiver age, child and caregiver race/ethnicity, caregiver education, caregiver relationship to child, income level) or other variables (e.g., child assessment performance, type of maltreatment bringing family into the study, caregiver depression, caregiver alcohol and/or substance dependency, and child discipline severity) contribute to the likelihood of a mandatory report being filed.