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Child Abuse Negl. 2006 Dec;30(12):1353-63. Epub 2006 Nov 13.

A survey of pediatricians' attitudes and experiences with court in cases of child maltreatment.

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Department of Social Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 27599-7505, USA.



To explore pediatricians' attitudes and experiences with the court system in child maltreatment cases.


An anonymous, cross-sectional survey of a random sample of pediatricians registered with the North Carolina Medical Board.


The response rate of the study was 60% (N=270). Few pediatricians (10%) reported that they had "ever" suspected maltreatment but decided not to report it. Pediatricians were equally likely to recall positive and negative experiences in court for child abuse cases. Pediatricians with negative court experiences were more likely to view reporting as time-consuming and were more than twice as likely not to report suspected cases of maltreatment (OR 2.4, 95% CI 1.04, 6.0). Seventy-five percent of pediatricians felt that court is harmful or distressing for children.


The majority of pediatricians report suspected cases of child maltreatment. Pediatrician's court experiences play a role in the response to child maltreatment cases, influencing attitudes towards the legal system and the process of caring for maltreated children. Future research efforts should address physicians' concerns about the impact of court on children, ways to improve the working relationship between the legal system and physicians, and the training needs of physicians in child maltreatment, including testifying and understanding the court process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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