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Eur J Paediatr Dent. 2003 Jun;4(2):89-95.

General dental practitioners' perception of their role within child protection: a qualitative study.

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  • 1Glasgow Dental Hospital and School, University of Glasgow.



This was to assess general dental practitioners' knowledge, attitudes and practice regarding their role within child protection in relation to child abuse.


Structured interviews with seven key informants from general dental practice (2), local dental committees (1), social services (2), paediatric dentistry (1) and community child health (1), together with five focus groups comprising 23 general dental practitioners (GDPs) on Health Authority Lists in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland (UK).


GDPs reported feelings of isolation with little communication with other health professionals or local authority services. The majority had scarcely considered child protection issues in their clinical practice although those qualified for less than 15 years were more aware. GDPs acknowledged a lack of awareness of signs and symptoms of physical abuse and even less confidence in dealing with emotional or sexual abuse. Dentists expressed concern, even fear, about the outcomes of reporting suspicions, and had little knowledge of the local Child Protection mechanisms.


GDPs in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland feel unprepared to undertake a role in the child protection process with confidence. National and local initiatives may be required to address existing barriers.

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[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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