National Survey on the Use of Screening Tools to Detect Physical Child Abuse
Recognition of physical child abuse is imperative for ensuring children’s safety. Screening tools (ST) may increase identification of physical abuse; however, the extent of their use is unknown. This study assessed use of STs for physical abuse in children’s hospitals and determined attitudes regarding STs.
A web-based survey was sent to child abuse program contacts at 103 children’s hospitals. The survey assessed institutional use of a ST for physical abuse and characteristics of the ST used. Respondents were asked to identify benefits and liabilities of STs used or barriers to ST use.
Seventy-two respondents (70 %) completed the survey; most (64 %) were child abuse pediatricians. Nine (13 %) respondents reported using a ST for physical abuse; STs varied in length, population, administration, and outcomes of a positive screen. Most respondents (86 %) using a ST felt that it increased detection of abuse. Barriers noted included lack of time for development and provider completion of a ST.
While few respondents endorsed use of a ST for physical abuse, most believed that it increased detection of abuse. Future research should focus on development of a brief, uniform ST for physical abuse which may increase detection in at-risk children.
Crichton, K. G.,
Cooper, J. N.,
Groner, J. I.,
Thackeray, J. D.,
& Deans, K.
(2016). National Survey on the Use of Screening Tools to Detect Physical Child Abuse. Pediatric Surgery International, 32 (8), 815-818.