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Are Our Frontline Clinicians Equipped with the Ability and Confidence to Address Child Abuse and Neglect?

NCJ Number
Child Abuse Review Volume: 21 Issue: 2 Dated: March-April 2012 Pages: 114-130
Shanti Raman; Anna Holdgate; Rebecca Torrens
Date Published
April 2012
17 pages
This study examined the ability of health care professionals in general practice and hospital settings in South Western Sydney to identify and address cases involving child abuse and neglect.
Previous studies have suggested that child abuse and neglect (CAN) is under recognized and under reported. The study aims were to examine and compare child protection (CP) knowledge, confidence and practice of frontline clinicians in general practice and hospital settings in South Western Sydney (SWS). The authors surveyed doctors and nurses in general practice and in the emergency department (ED) in a district in SWS using a validated questionnaire. Of the 113 responses, 62 were general practitioners (GPs), 9 practice nurses, 26 ED nurses and 16 ED doctors. The confidence level with identifying CAN was moderate, with a significant difference between groups. The majority (59 percent) had made previous CP reports, few suspected but decided not to report; reporting rates differed significantly. A majority (80 percent) reported some CP training; of the 22 with no training, 21 were GPs and practice nurses. Of those reporting some training, more than 70 percent of ED nurses, GPs and practice nurses felt their training was inadequate, compared with 19 percent of ED doctors. There are significant differences in confidence and practice between frontline clinicians in primary care and ED. Targeted CP training should be provided for all frontline clinicians with particular emphasis on primary care GPs. (Published Abstract)