Medical costs attributable to child maltreatment a systematic review of short- and long-term effects

Am J Prev Med. 2011 Dec;41(6):627-35. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.08.013.


Context: Child maltreatment is a serious and prevalent public health problem, which has been shown to be associated with numerous short- and long-term effects on mental and physical health. Few estimates of the medical costs of these effects have been published to date. To determine the range and quality of currently available estimates and identify the gaps and needs for future research, this article reviews research on medical costs of child maltreatment.

Evidence acquisition: Peer-reviewed literature on child maltreatment and medical costs was identified by searching major databases. Twelve articles on the medical costs of child maltreatment were identified.

Evidence synthesis: Eight studies describe short-term costs among children; four describe adult, long-term costs. Most studies used convenience samples, captured a partial share of the total costs, and did not follow best practices for econometric analysis of medical costs.

Conclusions: Child maltreatment is associated with substantial medical costs in childhood and adulthood, but estimates vary widely because of differences in research designs, types of cost data, and study quality. Econometric estimates of the annual medical costs in adulthood range from zero to about $800. Per-episode estimates of child costs, based on mean comparisons, range from $0 to >$24,000.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / economics*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • United States