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The effect of using trained versus untrained adult respondents in simulated practice interviews about child abuse

journal contribution
posted on 2008-11-01, 00:00 authored by Martine Powell, R Fisher, Carolyn Hughes-Scholes
Objective
A single study tested the hypothesis that simulated practice interviews for investigative interviewers of children are more effective when the role of the child respondent is played by trained actors (i.e., postgraduate psychology students) than untrained fellow participants (i.e., child protection workers).
Method
The interviewers included 50 child protection service workers. Each interviewer received instruction in the use of open-ended questions and then engaged in two simulated practice interviews. The role of the child respondent in the practice interviews was played by either a trained psychology student or an untrained fellow participant. The key outcome measure was the proportion of open-ended questions, which was assessed immediately prior to and after the practice sessions, as well as 12 weeks post-training.
Results
Interviewers who had practiced with trained actors had higher post-training performance (M = .83, SD = .12) compared to those who had practiced with untrained fellow participants (M = .73, SD = .13, p < .05), even at the 12-week follow up (M actors = .66, SD = .25; M untrained actors = .49, SD = .23, p < .05).
Conclusions
Training programs that make better use of practice opportunities (e.g., by using trained respondents) will be more effective in improving the performance of investigative interviewers.
Practice implications
A single study investigated the relative effectiveness of two simulated practice exercises for professionals who interview children about abuse. This research is relevant to professionals who design investigative interviewer training programs because it indicates that practical exercises, which are currently chosen on an ‘ad hoc’ or convenience basis, can vary markedly in their effectiveness in encouraging adherence to open questions.

History

Journal

Child abuse & neglect

Volume

32

Issue

11

Pagination

1007 - 1016

Publisher

Pergamon

Location

Oxford, England

ISSN

0145-2134

eISSN

1873-7757

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2008, Pergamon Press

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