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Reasonable Suspicion: A Pilot Study of Pediatric Residents

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 30 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2006 Pages: 345-356
Benjamin H. Levi; Georgia Brown; Chris Erb
Date Published
April 2006
12 pages
This study explored the understanding of “reasonable suspicion” among pediatric residents in terms of mandated reporting of suspected child abuse.
Overall, physician residents held quite different views as to the meaning and application of “reasonable suspicion” of child abuse. Results indicated wide variation among physicians in terms of the thresholds they set for “reasonable suspicion.” There were no significant differences in physician responses based on age, gender, year of residency, or anticipated practice type. An interesting finding was that 83.3 percent of physician responses were internally inconsistent between the two measurement scales used to assess understandings of “reasonable suspicion” (Differential Diagnosis scale and an Estimated Probability scale). This inconsistency raises serious concerns about how “reasonable suspicion” functions clinically because it suggests physicians are confused about the concept of “reasonable suspicion” and how it should affect their duty to report. Participants were 42 residents who completed a survey questionnaire that assessed their understanding and interpretation of the concept of “reasonable suspicion.” Descriptive statistics were generated on the resulting data. Limitations of the study are noted and include the failure to ask physician residents their level of experience in reporting child abuse. Tables, figures, references