What residents know about child abuse. Implications of a survey of knowledge and attitudes

Am J Dis Child. 1988 Jun;142(6):668-72. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.1988.02150060102042.


Residency training programs are the appropriate milieu in which physicians should receive specialized training in the diagnosis and management of child abuse. The purposes of the present study were to assess and compare residents' knowledge of child abuse and their attitudes toward the propriety of different forms of childhood discipline. We surveyed 192 residents from seven different training programs with questionnaires probing their knowledge of child abuse and their attitudes toward childhood disciplinary measures; 161 (84%) of the questionnaires were satisfactorily completed by residents in pediatrics (n = 87), family medicine (n = 51), and surgery (n = 23). Both pediatric residents and family medicine residents outperformed surgery residents in one subscale and the total score on the test. Scores were not related to year of training or attitudes toward childhood discipline but were correlated with self-reports of previous child abuse teaching. Residents' performance on a childhood disciplinary measure demonstrated wide latitude in their rating of the acceptability of 23 different modes of childhood discipline. Our findings indicate a need for a more systematic approach to residents' education in childhood intentional injuries and some value clarification of their attitudes toward various forms of childhood discipline.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Child Abuse*
  • Child Rearing
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family Practice / education
  • Female
  • General Surgery / education
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Pediatrics / education
  • Surveys and Questionnaires