ISSN : 2146-3123
E-ISSN : 2146-3131

The Knowledge Level and Opinions of Physicians about the Medical and Legal Procedures Related to Physical Child Abuse
Sema Demirçin 1, Akın Tütüncüler 2, Fatmagül Aslan 3, Sevtap Velipaşaoğlu Güney 4, Mehmet Atılgan 1, Hakan Gülkesen 5
1Department of Forensic Medicine, Akdeniz University School of Medicine, Antalya, Turkey
2Office of Forensic Medicine Council, İstanbul, Turkey
3Clinic of Forensic Medicine, Antalya State Hospital, Antalya, Turkey
4Department of Pediatrics, Akdeniz University School of Medicine, Antalya, Turkey
5Department of Biostatistics, Akdeniz University School of Medicine, Antalya, Turkey
DOI : 10.4274/balkanmedj.2015.1195
Pages : 140-146

Background: In order to diagnose child abuse, physicians need to consider the possibility of abuse in every child they encounter, have sufficient information about the topic and manage the cases according to current law.
Aims: To determine the knowledge level of physicians on child abuse and to learn their opinions about the procedures when they suspect child abuse.
Study Design: A questionnaire (cross-sectional) study.
Methods: A detailed questionnaire was applied to 390 physicians of whom 233 were general practitioners. The first part of the questionnaire included demographic variables (age, gender, occupational experience) and the frequency of child physical abuse cases encountered, since that is the most easily diagnosed and proven form of abuse. The second part consisted of 32 questions about diagnosis of physical child abuse and procedures during the follow-up of the cases. Statistical analyses were performed using SPSS version 18.0.
Results: Of the participating physicians, 47.4% (n=185) were female and only 13.1% of the physicians had some kind of postgraduate training on child abuse. The correct response rate of specialists compared to general practitioners was significantly higher. A total of 263 (72.3%) physicians thought that there was a specific law on physical child abuse in the Turkish Republic. More than two-thirds of physicians thought that reporting should only be addressed to Social Services and physicians should not be obliged to report to law enforcement.
Conclusion: The results of the present study adds to the already known necessity for better training of physicians about physical child abuse and the need to refresh their knowledge through postgraduate courses. According to current regulations, it is obligatory to report abuse cases to the public prosecutor and/or police, therefore physicians also need training in respect of the legal status and medico-legal approach to these cases.

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Keywords : Child abuse, physician, postgraduate, training, questionnaire
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