A qualitative description of resident physicians’ understanding of child maltreatment: Impacts, recognition, and response
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Child maltreatment (CM) is a public health problem with devastating effects on individuals, families, and communities. Resident physicians have varied formal education in CM, and report feeling inadequately trained in identifying and responding to CM. The purpose of this study is to explore residents’ understanding of the impacts of CM, and their perceptions of their role in recognizing and responding to CM to better understand their educational needs. This study analyzed qualitative data obtained from a larger project on family violence education. Twenty-nine resident physicians enrolled in pediatric, family medicine, emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and psychiatry training programs in Alberta, Ontario, and Québec participated in semi-structured interviews to elicit their ideas, experiences, and educational needs relating to CM. Conventional (inductive) content analysis guided the development of codes and categories. Residents had thorough knowledge about the impacts of CM and their duty to recognize CM, but there was less consistency in how residents understood their role in responding to CM. Residents identified the need for more education about recognizing and responding to CM, and the need for educational content to be responsive to training, patient and family factors, and systemic issues. Despite knowledge about the impacts of CM and laws pertaining to mandated reporting, residents reported challenges with responding to concerns of CM. Findings of this study emphasize the need for better training in response to CM. Future educational interventions should consider a multidisciplinary, experiential approach.
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