Concerns about child maltreatment in hospitalized children

Child Abuse Negl. 1997 Feb;21(2):187-98. doi: 10.1016/s0145-2134(96)00144-5.


This study examined factors associated with clinicians' concerns about abuse and neglect and reporting hospitalized children to Child Protective Services (CPS). Data came from a cross-sectional chart review from a random sample of pediatric hospitalizations 1988-1990 in three cities for five condition groups (n = 5,446), and included evidence of clinicians' concerns about physical abuse or neglect and reports to CPS, family income, ethnicity, family structure, child's age, and illness severity at admission. Concerns about abuse were noted in 2.5% of the total sample, concerns about neglect in 3.1%, and 2.9% of children were reported to CPS. Concerns about abuse were most frequent in children with head trauma (8.2%), and concerns about neglect in children with toxic ingestion (12.3%). Young age of child, low income, and single parent family were independently associated with increased frequencies of concerns and reports. Low income was significantly associated with clinicians' concerns about neglect, but not abuse or reports to CPS. Ethnicity was not significant after controlling for income and family structure. Severity of illness was associated with concerns about physical abuse (p = .02) among children with head trauma, and with concerns about neglect and frequency of reporting among children with meningitis (p < .01). Our results confirm the associations among neglect, poverty, and single-parent families among hospitalized children. Increasing severity of illness may make clinicians consciously or unconsciously consider that care has been delayed and the child neglected.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis
  • Child Abuse / ethnology
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Hospitalized
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / classification
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Poisoning
  • Poverty
  • Random Allocation
  • Single Parent
  • Socioeconomic Factors