Child Abuse & Neglect
Despite reporting legislation, healthcare providers (HCPs) do not always report and collaborate in cases of suspected child abuse. Recognizing this leaves children at risk, the Wisconsin Child Abuse Network (WI CAN) sought to understand barriers to mandated reporting and collaboration with child abuse investigators.
The purpose of the study was to investigate barriers for professionals in providing and obtaining high-quality medical information in child abuse investigations.
Participants and setting
Participants included five discipline-specific focus groups: HCPs, child protective services (CPS), law enforcement, lawyers, and judges. All professionals had been directly involved in Wisconsin child abuse cases.
This qualitative study consisted of discipline-specific focus groups, directed by open-ended interview questions. Data analysis was completed through the narrative inquiry methodology.
Barriers to providing and obtaining high-quality medical information in child abuse investigations were both discipline-specific and universal amongst all groups. Discipline-specific barriers included: HCPs’ discomfort with uncertainty; CPS’ perception of disrespect and mistrust by HCPs; law enforcement’s concerns with HCPs’ overstepping professional boundaries; lawyers’ concern of HCPs’ discomfort with court proceedings; and judges’ perception of a lack of understanding between all disciplines. Universal barriers included: value of high-quality medical information in child abuse investigations, burden of time and money; unequal resources between counties; a need for protocols, and a need for interdisciplinary collaboration.
Findings from this study suggest several ways to address identified barriers. Possible interventions include equalizing resources between urban and rural counties (specifically financial resources and access to child abuse experts); protocolizing reporting and investigations; and, increasing interprofessional education.
Cleek, Elizabeth; Johnson, Norah L.; and Sheets, Lynn K., "Interdisciplinary Collaboration Needed in Obtaining High-Quality Medical Information in Child Abuse Investigations" (2019). College of Nursing Faculty Research and Publications. 664.
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