Background: Past studies have suggested that physicians underreport suspected child maltreatment (CM) cases, possibly because of a lack of knowledge of the subject.
Objectives: To evaluate the amount, format, and content of CM training received in residency (graduate medical education) and continuing medical education (CME), and to compare its relationship to the likelihood of reporting CM.
Methods: A total of 482 U.S. Air Force emergency physicians, family practice physicians, and pediatricians were surveyed regarding the amount/type of CM training received as well as their CM reporting practices.
Results: Pediatricians report receiving more CM training during CME than either emergency physicians or family practice physicians, whereas during residency, both pediatricians and emergency physicians received more training than family practice physicians. Two-thirds of the training related solely to physical and sexual abuse, with little attention paid to other forms of CM. Regression analysis indicated that the only factor associated with the likelihood of reporting maltreatment was the amount of CME received.
Conclusion: CME seems to positively influence physician reporting practices for CM cases, suggesting a need for universal training protocols.