This study investigated how physicians, nurses, and social workers in community health care services make judgements about possible child maltreatment in ambiguous situations. We examined the influences of social biases (i.e., perceptions linking ethnicity, gender, and family socioeconomic status to child maltreatment) and belonging to distinctive occupational groups (i.e., physicians, nurses, and social workers) on professionals' assessment of suspected child maltreatment, intention to consult with others, and reporting. We used an experimental survey design including vignettes presenting a child's history inspired by real-life clinical cases. Data were collected from 397 health care professionals—170 physicians, 179 nurses, and 48 social workers—employed at community health care clinics in northern Israel. Findings show that the child's gender and family socioeconomic status had significant effects on assessment of possible child maltreatment. Also, professionals' occupational group had significant effects on assessment of child maltreatment and intention to pursue consultation. Another key finding was the significant effects of judgements about child maltreatment assessment, consultation, and reporting on one another. The study reinforces efforts to improve health care professionals' management of suspected child maltreatment that include the development of clinical decision support systems that use routinely collected electronic medical record data.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The research was funded by The Israel National Institute for Health Policy Research, Grant ID 2016/11/R.
© 2022 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
- child maltreatment
- decision making
- social workers
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health