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J Adv Nurs. 2002 Mar;37(6):551-7.

Caring for maltreated children: a challenge for health care education.

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Department of Nursing Science, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.



The aim of this study was to establish whether paediatric nurses and doctors in a university hospital need supplementary training in the identification of child physical abuse and whether there is a need to develop health care education on child abuse issues.


Child physical abuse was defined as actions of a parent or a primary caregiver of a child under 18 years of age, which have caused physical injuries to the child.


The sample consisted of paediatric staff (n=513) in a university hospital. Data were collected with a questionnaire, and the response rate was 62%. The data were analysed using statistical methods and quantitative content analysis.


Sixty per cent of respondents needed supplementary training in the identification of child abuse. Those having experience in caring for abused children considered the identification most difficult (P < 0.001) and needed training more often (P < 0.005) than the others. The need for training was explained by stating that their basic education had not addressed child abuse issues, and by the complexity of the issue.


The findings indicate that research-based knowledge of the identification and treatment of child abuse should be incorporated into health care education. Supplementary education should address the management of complex and sensitive issues with customers, legislation, division of labour and multiprofessional collaboration in which nurses and doctors have an important, family wellbeing promoting role.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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