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Pediatrics. 2009 Apr;123(4):e595-602. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-2938. Epub 2009 Mar 9.

Child abuse training and knowledge: a national survey of emergency medicine, family medicine, and pediatric residents and program directors.

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Eastern Virginia Medical School, Virginia, USA.



The objective of this study was to determine the level of knowledge, comfort, and training related to the medical management of child abuse among pediatrics, emergency medicine, and family medicine residents.


Surveys were administered to program directors and third-year residents at 67 residency programs. The resident survey included a 24-item quiz to assess knowledge regarding the medical management of physical and sexual child abuse. Sites were solicited from members of a network of child abuse physicians practicing at institutions with residency programs.


Analyzable surveys were received from 53 program directors and 462 residents. Compared with emergency medicine and family medicine programs, pediatric programs were significantly larger and more likely to have a medical provider specializing in child abuse pediatrics, have faculty primarily responsible for child abuse training, use a written curriculum for child abuse training, and offer an elective rotation in child abuse. Exposure to child abuse training and abused patients was highest for pediatric residents and lowest for family medicine residents. Comfort with managing child abuse cases was lowest among family medicine residents. On the knowledge quiz, pediatric residents significantly outperformed emergency medicine and family medicine residents. Residents with high knowledge scores were significantly more likely to come from larger programs and programs that had a center, provider, or interdisciplinary team that specialized in child abuse pediatrics; had a physician on faculty responsible for child abuse training; used a written curriculum for child abuse training; and had a required rotation in child abuse pediatrics.


By analyzing the relationship between program characteristics and residents' child abuse knowledge, we found that pediatric programs provide far more training and resources for child abuse education than emergency medicine and family medicine programs. As leaders, pediatricians must establish the importance of this topic in the pediatric education of residents of all specialties.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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