Amongst Norwegian paediatricians there is little agreement in management of cases of suspected child maltreatment
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionActa Paediatrica. 2021, 110 (10), 2865-2872. 10.1111/apa.16017
Aim Child maltreatment is not unusual in our society but little is known about the medical management of cases in the Nordic countries. This study investigated physician knowledge and practice in cases of suspected physical and sexual abuse and neglect. Methods Using a patient vignette questionnaire, we assessed paediatrician knowledge and clinical decision-making on paediatric wards at 17 hospitals in Norway. Experts and non-experts in child maltreatment responded to the survey which described six potential cases of physical and sexual abuse and neglect. Results A total of 156 paediatricians, 67% of whom were female and with a mean age of 40, responded. There was a high level of unanimity in recognition of abuse, but wide variation and little consensus in clinical decision-making and adherence to national guidelines, with Fleiss kappa ranging from −0.002 to 0.468. In cases involving physical abuse concerns in infants and toddlers, less than half of all paediatricians reported they would order a full radiologic skeletal survey and head MRI/CT imaging, and less than 30% would plan follow-up consultations. Conclusion This study shows little agreement in the paediatric management of child maltreatment cases. These findings suggest the need for a national plan ensuring appropriate paediatric care for maltreated children.