Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pediatricians’ opinions vary on reporting threshold for suspected child abuse

05.07.2005


What look like playground injuries to one physician, may be suspected child abuse to another. A Penn State College of Medicine study reports that there is widespread inconsistency among pediatricians in how they interpret their responsibility to report suspected child abuse. Mandated reporting of child abuse has been in effect for 30 years and requires that people who interact with children in a professional capacity contact child protection services whenever they have "reasonable suspicion" that a child has been abused. Though it has been assumed that mandated reporting statutes regarding child abuse are self-explanatory, this is the first systematic investigation to examine how mandated reporters – in this study, pediatricians – actually interpret and apply the threshold for mandated reporting.



"We found that physicians have different interpretations and different thresholds for when ’reasonable suspicion’ exists," said Benjamin H. Levi, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and humanities, Penn State College of Medicine, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. "There will always be subjectivity involved. But if pediatricians are applying the reporting guidelines in vastly different ways, this has profound implications for the children who may or may not be victims of abuse, as well as families and caregivers who are subject to inconsistent standards."

The study, released today (July 5, 2005), was published in the July 1 online edition of Pediatrics, a journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Co-authored by Georgia Brown, R.N., B.S.N., the article is titled "Reasonable Suspicion: A Study of Pennsylvania Pediatricians Regarding Child Abuse."


Levi and Brown developed a survey that included two frameworks to measure the degree of likelihood needed for suspicion of child abuse to rise to the level of "reasonable suspicion." The survey was sent to all 2,051 members of the Pennsylvania chapter of the AAP. Sixty-one percent, or 1,249, responded. Data were compiled by the Penn State Survey Research Center.

On a rank order scale of one to 10, (with one being most likely diagnosis and 10 the least likely), physicians were asked how high suspected child abuse would have to rank before they felt it amounted to reasonable suspicion. Twelve percent of respondents indicated that "abuse" would have to rank one or two to qualify as reasonable suspicion. Forty-one percent set the threshold at three or four, and 47 percent stated that abuse could rank as low as five to ten on the scale, suggesting that for some, any suspicion at all warranted reporting to child protection services.

Using another measurement scale, the same physicians were asked how likely suspected child abuse would have to be before it amounted to reasonable suspicion. Fifteen percent of respondents indicated that abuse would need to be greater than 75 percent likely before reasonable suspicion existed. Twenty-five percent stated that a 60 percent to 70 percent likelihood was needed, 25 percent identified the necessary likelihood as 40 percent to 50 percent, and 35 percent set the threshold as low as 10 percent to 35 percent.

"Not only was there wide variation regardless of physician age, training, or years of experience, but when we compared the individual responses for the two scales, 85 percent were internally inconsistent, meaning that the physicians answered differently depending on the scale used. This is alarming because this suggests there is no consistency in how the majority of physicians surveyed interpret the threshold for when to report suspected abuse," Levi said. "I think we took it for granted that the concept of reasonable suspicion was clear to everyone, but our data show that it in fact has a wide range of meanings not only between physicians, but within the same physician."

Levi and Brown plan to more broadly administer their survey to see if the current results are generalizable to other mandated reporters such as nurses, teachers, daycare providers, etc.

"Child abuse is obviously a critical social issue and more studies are needed to determine whether these findings are applicable to the greater population of mandated reporters," Levi said. "If we do find that there is widespread confusion about what constitutes reasonable suspicion across classes of mandated reporters, it will require rethinking what society should expect from mandated reporters, what sort of training and guidelines may be needed to meet the expectations, and what will determine our societal threshold for reporting possible child abuse."

Valerie Gliem | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht When a fish becomes fluid
17.12.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

nachricht Some brain tumors may respond to immunotherapy, new study suggests
11.12.2018 | Columbia University Irving Medical Center

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Pressure tuned magnetism paves the way for novel electronic devices

18.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

New type of low-energy nanolaser that shines in all directions

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA research reveals Saturn is losing its rings at 'worst-case-scenario' rate

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>