When Attitudes Become Obstacles: An Exploratory Study of Future Physicians’ Concerns about Reporting Child Maltreatment

Article (Faculty180)

cited authors

  • Dynes, Morgan E; Rasiah, Stephne S; Knox, Michele


  • Abstract: Background: Child maltreatment (CM) makes up a significant portion of events under the<br>larger umbrella term of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Therefore, we need to develop a<br>competent healthcare workforce that is prepared to assess and report CM in order to create a comprehensive framework for assessing and addressing ACEs. The objective of the present study was to<br>examine the obstacles to reporting CM among a sample of future physicians. Methods: Two samples<br>of medical students and residents (N = 196) completed the Healthcare Provider Attitudes Toward<br>Child Maltreatment Reporting Scale and rated how likely they would be to report suspected CM.<br>Results: Medical students were found to have more negative feelings about and perceive more obstacles to reporting CM compared to residents in our sample. Scores on the Reporting Responsibilities<br>subscale were not significantly associated with increased likelihood of reporting CM. However, lower<br>scores on the Concerns about Reporting subscale were related to an increased likelihood of reporting<br>CM. Conclusions: Future physicians who perceived fewer obstacles to reporting CM reported being<br>more likely to report suspected CM. Misinformed fears about outcomes such as retaliation, removal<br>of the child from the home, and being sued may interfere with future physicians’ adherence to<br>mandated reporting responsibilities. Efforts should be made early in physician education to identify<br>and address common myths and misconceptions around mandated reporting and its outcomes.<br>Keywords: child maltreatment; mandated reporting; physicians; medical students; residents

publication date

  • 2023

published in

start page

  • 979


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