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Pediatrics. 2006 Jun;117(6):2215-21.

Pediatric residency training in child abuse and neglect in the United States.

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Department of Pediatrics, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina, USA.



Child abuse and neglect are leading public health problems with significant morbidity and mortality. Previous studies indicate that physicians often lack knowledge and confidence in addressing child abuse and neglect.


Our goal was to assess the child abuse and neglect curricula in pediatric residency programs as reported by chief residents and to identify levels of preparedness of residents to address child abuse and neglect on graduation. We analyzed variables related to preparedness.


A 28-item survey was sent to chief residents of all 203 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited pediatric residency programs in the United States from 2004-2005. We performed descriptive, bivariable, and multivariable analyses.


The response rate was 71%. Most programs taught didactics on physical and sexual abuse, but only 54% included domestic violence. Ninety-three percent of respondents rated their didactics as useful or very useful. Forty-one percent of programs required mandatory clinical rotations in child abuse and neglect, 57% offered elective rotations, and 25% offered no rotations at all. Respondents rated the levels of preparedness of graduating residents to address child abuse and neglect as: very well (12%), well (54%), somewhat well (28%), or not well (6%). Preparedness was significantly associated with didactic usefulness, number of hours of didactics, total number of inpatient cases of child abuse and neglect seen, percent of residents completing mandatory rotations, number of sexual abuse cases during mandatory rotation, number of physical abuse cases during mandatory rotation, and length of mandatory rotation.


Mandatory clinical experiences in child abuse and neglect improve the preparedness of graduating residents to identify and evaluate patients for child abuse and neglect. Perhaps residency training in child abuse and neglect should be a required subspecialty rotation with more explicit curricular content than in the current mandates.

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