The NICHD interview protocol used by Dutch child protection workers: Effects on interview style, children's reported information and susceptibility to suggestion

B. Erens*, H. Otgaar, C. de Ruiter, D. van Bragt, I. Hershkowitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)


In the Netherlands, there is currently no quality standard for conducting child forensic interviews in Child Protective Services (CPS) . The lack of such standard causes concern regarding the quality of these interviews, which are used to determine the child's safety and implementing treatment. In the current study, we implemented the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) protocol at Safe Home, the Dutch national reporting agency for child abuse and domestic violence. Professionals at Safe Home received a three-day training in the NICHD protocol with regular follow-up feedback sessions. We compared 38 NICHD interviews with 30 control interviews on variables such as the type of questions asked, number of reported words, and children's mood state. NICHD interviews contained more invitations and fewer suggestive questions compared to non-standardized interviews. Furthermore, children reported more information related to the reported incident when they were interviewed with the NICHD protocol compared to control interviews. After being interviewed, children reported a more positive mood state independent of how they were interviewed (NICHD or control interview). Finally, children interviewed with the NICHD protocol were less likely to succumb to suggestive probes provided after the interview than children in the control group. We argue that child protection professionals need training in an evidence-based interview protocol to improve fact-finding in CPS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-18
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date10 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • child abuse investigation
  • child forensic interviewing
  • child protection
  • NICHD protocol

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