Education for Healthcare Professionals on Screening for Child Abuse
Child abuse and maltreatment affect approximately 1 in 7 children across the United States which, according to the CDC, is likely an underestimate (CDC, 2021). Child maltreatment can include physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as neglect. Neglect is defined as “failure to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs,” such as, housing, food, and access to medical care (CDC, 2021). These adverse childhood experiences do not only have immediate physical effects, but long term psychological and emotional effects such as depression, attention deficit disorder, and drug and alcohol use (Dinpanah & Akbarzadeh Pasha, 2017). Consistent screening for child abuse is imperative to ensure early identification. Insufficient knowledge of injuries consistent with abuse, lack of a standardized screening protocol, and impaired confidence in administering screening tools lead to healthcare providers simply not performing screenings. Research shows that “if abuse goes undetected at the initial presentation, the abused child has a 35% to 50% chance of experiencing recurrent abuse and a 10% to 30% chance of eventual death from that abuse” (Carson, 2018, p. 577). The purpose of this evidence based review is to examine the relationship between education for healthcare professionals about screening for child abuse and how it improves their confidence in performing the screening. Nurses and other healthcare professionals are mandatory reporters, so education on performing screenings and detecting child abuse is necessary for protecting these vulnerable populations.