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Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2010 Sep;89(9):765-71. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e3181ec9936.

Pediatric resident attitudes toward caring for children with severe disabilities.

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Division of Pediatric Critical Care, Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-0106, USA.



To survey pediatric residents' attitudes toward caring for children with severe disabilities.


A cross-sectional survey of residents in a university-affiliated pediatric residency program between October and December 2005. Residents were asked to complete a newly designed, 13-item survey. For each item, participants selected the degree to which they did or did not agree with a statement about disabilities or caring for children with severe disabilities.


Fifty-five (43%) of 129 eligible residents participated. Eighty-nine percent felt that caring for children with severe disabilities was as rewarding as caring for other children. Ninety-two percent felt that there is a societal responsibility to care for such children; 98% felt families of children with disabilities love their children as much as other families. Two-thirds (66%) admitted frustration related to caring for children who cannot be cured or function independently, and 71% questioned the aggressive treatment of such children. Residents in their second and third postgraduate years were more likely to question the aggressive treatment compared with their junior colleagues.


Although pediatric residents had positive attitudes toward children with severe disabilities, emotional and moral tensions did arise around their care.

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