Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Healthcare staff under report child physical abuse and one in five worry about getting it wrong

26.10.2006
Sixty per cent of healthcare professionals have seen a child they suspect was being physically abused, but only 48 per cent reported it to the authorities, according to research published in the latest Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Just under three-quarters of doctors, dentists and community nurses said they were aware of some of the mechanisms of reporting child physical abuse, but 79 per cent felt they needed further information.

Over a fifth (21 per cent) said they were worried about getting it wrong. Confronting families, inexperience and fear of litigation were also common barriers to reporting.

“The ability to recognise physical abuse and willingness to report it varied between the groups” says lead researcher Dr Anne Lazenbatt, from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland.

“Our survey of 419 healthcare professionals showed that community nurses were most likely to recognise and report physical abuse.

“It also revealed that fears, anxieties and lack of knowledge stop primary healthcare professionals from reporting abuse and that they need more education, training and support in this area.”

74 per cent were aware of the mechanisms for reporting – with community nurses showing the highest levels of awareness, followed by doctors and dentists. 99 per cent said recognising and reporting child physical abuse should be part of undergraduate and postgraduate training and 79 per cent wanted further in-service training.

Research published by the United Nations in 2002 suggests that 3,500 children under the age of 15 die from child physical abuse every year in the industrialised world.

And seven per cent of children in the UK have been reported as suffering from physical abuse from a parent or carer, according to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Lazenbatt’s research, carried out with Professor Ruth Freeman from the University’s School of Dentistry, drew questionnaire responses from 139 Community Nurses, 147 General Medical Practitioners and 133 General Dental Practitioners in Northern Ireland – a response rate of 43 per cent.

The majority were in the 30-49 age group (71 per cent) and 43 per cent were male. They had been in practice for an average of 15 to 16 years.

Four key issues arose during the research:

•Healthcare professional were worried about misidentifying physical abuse and unwilling to confront the family. They wanted to remain anonymous and feared hostility, damage to their relationships with families and repercussions for the child and the family. They were also concerned about possible legal action.

“The barriers for me are an uncertainty about what I am looking for and not wanting to start a problem for the family” said one of the Dentists who took part.

“I would be hesitant to get involved in child protection work for fear that this would trigger a formal complaint, a disciplinary hearing or even litigation” added one of the Doctors.

•Respondents cited lack of clear guidelines and protocols as a barrier to reporting abuse. They were also concerned about their inexperience and poor interview techniques, especially when they were faced with parents who were keen to avoid detection.

“Recognising child abuse is always going to be a difficult and emotive area” said one Community Nurse. “Often parents, as carers, can give a plausible explanation for any injuries, bruising etc. Frequently this is the explanation people want to believe, as it will be less difficult to deal with by everyone concerned. What makes management of suspected cases of child abuse easier is having clear protocols and guidelines.”

“Identifying and reporting is always more difficult when a child is seen infrequently” pointed out one Dentist.

•Other barriers to reporting included workload pressures, red tape and hierarchy, reporting procedures and lack of sensitivity and support from social services and colleagues. Some Dentists felt that child abuse was not relevant to their profession and another burden in an already stressful occupation.

“I understand the child’s welfare is paramount, but living in small communities it is difficult for social services to be seen to be sensitive or impartial” said one Community Nurse.

And a Doctor expressed frustration with colleagues. “In one case of suspected neglect/abuse it was reported several times and nothing was done. I eventually reported it to an on-duty social worker who dealt with it, but there was a time lapse of 12-18 months.”

•The majority of participants wanted multidisciplinary workshops, in-service education and accessible training tools. They also highlighted perceived deficiencies in the education they had already received.

“There is no more time for complacency” said one Doctor. “To do this we need knowledge and input from a wide range of professionals and agencies, all of whom should be communicating, working in partnership and educated at all levels with a multi-professional / agency framework. This should be mandatory and frequent.”

“The findings suggest that recognising child physical abuse is both a complex and difficult task for primary healthcare professionals and illustrates a substantial gap between their ability to recognise maltreatment and knowledge of the pathways for reporting it” concludes Dr Lazenbatt.

“Although the consequences of failing to identify child physical abuse can be catastrophic, it is also essential that professionals are educated to recognise conditions that might inadvertently be mistaken as abuse so that unnecessary distress can be avoided.

“Child abuse is an important global problem and primary healthcare professionals can play an essential role in recognising and reporting abuse, but only if they receive the education and support they need to make informed decisions.

“Developing clear policies and co-ordinated local responses that involve all those concerned with the welfare and protection of children is also essential.”

Annette Whibley | alfa
Further information:
http://www.journalofadvancednursing.com

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Investigators may unlock mystery of how staph cells dodge the body's immune system
22.09.2017 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

nachricht Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?
21.09.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>