Challenges in Using Medicaid Claims to Ascertain Child Maltreatment

Ramesh Raghavan, Derek S. Brown, Benjamin T. Allaire, Lauren D. Garfield, Raven E. Ross, Donald Hedeker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Medicaid data contain International Classification of Diseases, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) codes indicating maltreatment, yet there is a little information on how valid these codes are for the purposes of identifying maltreatment from health, as opposed to child welfare, data. This study assessed the validity of Medicaid codes in identifying maltreatment. Participants (n = 2,136) in the first National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being were linked to their Medicaid claims obtained from 36 states. Caseworker determinations of maltreatment were compared with eight sets of ICD-9-CM codes. Of the 1,921 children identified by caseworkers as being maltreated, 15.2% had any relevant ICD-9-CM code in any of their Medicaid files across 4 years of observation. Maltreated boys and those of African American race had lower odds of displaying a maltreatment code. Using only Medicaid claims to identify maltreated children creates validity problems. Medicaid data linkage with other types of administrative data is required to better identify maltreated children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-91
Number of pages9
JournalChild Maltreatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 22 2015


  • ascertainment
  • maltreatment
  • medicaid
  • validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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