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Pediatr Int. 2007 Apr;49(2):177-82.

Child abuse study among Swedish physicians and medical students.

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Department of Pediatrics, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.



The purpose of the present paper was to examine the attitudes and experiences of reporting child abuse and neglect among primary care and hospital-based physicians and to study the responses of physicians and medical students to case vignettes suggestive of possible physical abuse or neglect.


Physicians at the child health centers in Göteborg primary care (n= 44) and the general pediatricians at the pediatric hospital (n= 21) in Göteborg answered a questionnaire regarding their attitude and experiences reporting child abuse and neglect. The physicians and medical students (n= 34) responded to three case vignettes in which child abuse and neglect could be suspected.


A majority of the physicians had reported child abuse and neglect to the social services (80%). No differences were found between primary care and hospital-based physicians in terms of reporting or attitudes. Two-thirds of the physicians had suspected child abuse and neglect and decided not to report, and the major reason for not reporting was a lack of confidence in social services organization. Twenty-one percent had never reported a child for abuse or neglect during their working career. Medical students were more likely to report hypothetical cases than physicians.


Many physicians have reported child abuse to social services but also have neglected to do so even when suspecting abuse. It is important that medical students' willingness to report is continued when starting to work clinically and that all physicians should be continuously educated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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