Aim. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the usefulness of salutogenesis in work relating to child protection.
Methods. A systematic review to explore the links between parenting, social factors and failure to thrive was carried out using 17 CD ROM and online databases using keywords in appropriate medical subject headings (MeSH terms) and Boolean operators refined for the studies. The salutogenic framework was then used as a way of clarifying what benefit particular research findings may have in identifying and using factors which can be associated with protection, safety and well being of children. Cross-referencing the evidence from the systematic review against Antonovsky's generalized resistance resources created a salutogenic matrix.
Findings. Four factors in the systematic review were found crucially important: parent factors; parenting factors; child factors; and social factors. However, it is probable that these are useful within all child protection research and the evidence gathered in particular cases (here failure to thrive) could be plotted against each factor. Application of a salutogenic framework to the results was further illuminating and has utility for both systematic review methodology and other child protection explorations. The matrix created a warp and weft effect that identified gaps in current evidence and practice and was able to disentangle some of the complexities inherent within failure to thrive situations. By beginning to shed understanding on such processes, the concept of salutogenesis added further depth and rigour to the analysis.
Conclusions. The concept of salutogenesis is widely used in some areas of nursing practice and research, and can also be regarded as a theoretical tool that has potential in child care and protection research, development and practice. The paper also illustrates the importance of a sound theoretical framework in ensuring depth and rigour in analyses of literature review findings.