Research

Attitudes and knowledge of medical doctors about the abuse and neglect of children

Child protection center of Zagreb conducted research among medical doctors working with children in the primary health care.  in the period between November 2007 and May 2008. The aim was to research the medical doctors’ perception of their knowledge about the abuse and neglect of children. Project leaders were Gordana Buljan Flander, Assistant Professor, Vesna Čorić, MD,  and Domagoj Štimac, MD.

Research ‘Attitudes and knowledge of medical doctors about the abuse and neglect of children’ was conducted by anonymous filling in of questionnaires which the doctors received at their workplace together with the stamped envelope for their answer to be returned by mail to the Center for child protection in Zagreb.

Research included paediatricians, general practitioners, family doctors and school doctors, all from Croatian health insurance lists and working under contract with Croatian health insurance. Total number of the sample was 253 paediatricians, 175 school doctors and 2367 general practitioners and family doctors.

In the above mentioned period, we received answers from 78 paediatricians (30.83 %) and 512 school doctors, general practitioners and family doctors (20.29 %). Obtained data were statistically analysed with paediatricians separated from other doctors (school doctors, general practitioners and family doctors).

At their work place, 57 % of paediatricians and 54 % of doctors of other specialties state that they very rarely have cases that raise suspicion for abuse and neglect, while 39 % of paediatricians and 21 % of other doctors have them sometimes. One paediatrician and 22 % of other doctors have never suspected abuse or neglect in their work.

The majority of doctors (56 % of paediatricians and 43 % of other doctors), according to the self-evaluation of their knowledge, think they have just got to know the problem, while about one fourth of all doctors (23 % of paediatricians and 25 % of other doctors) state they know much about it. Few doctors (2 and 4 %) state that they know very much.

All these results were interpreted in the light of the existing research and practice in the field of child protection and abuse and neglect prevention. We are planning publications of papers with results in scientific and professional journals.