Meta-analysis of the effects of two interviewing practices on children’s disclosures of sensitive information: Rapport practices and question type

Jennifer Lavoie, Joshua Wyman, Angela M. Crossman, Victoria Talwar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background & Objective: The forensic interview is an important part of the investigative process with child witnesses, and ensuring evidence-based practices is crucial to its success. This meta-analysis examined the overall effect of rapport practices and question type on children’s disclosures during forensic interviews to determine (a) how large of an influence existing practices have on children’s tendency to disclose information, and (b) how consistent the effect sizes of interviewing practices are across studies, given that inconsistent results have been found. 
Method: A systematic review of child interviewing practices was conducted, and 35 studies met the inclusion criteria. Articles were categorized thematically according to interviewing practice. Two practices were predominantly represented in the literature and were selected for review and meta-analysis: rapport techniques, including interviewer support, (n = 9), and question type (n = 25 samples, 23 studies). Random-effects meta-analytic models were computed separately for rapport practices and question type, and moderator analyses were conducted to test for differences according to age and interviewing protocol. 
Results: Rapport techniques had a medium overall effect on children’s disclosures (d = 0.55, p < .001), and was moderated by the interviewing protocol used, but not children’s age. Open-ended questions compared to closed-ended questions had a medium overall effect on children’s descriptions of sensitive events (d = 0.52, p < .001), and was not moderated by age or interviewing protocol. 
Conclusions: These findings provide overarching support for the use of rapport and support, and the use of open-ended questions in forensic interviews with child witnesses.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104930
Number of pages12
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume113
Early online date14 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • child
  • adolescent
  • interviewing practices
  • disclosures

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