How Danish dentists and dental hygienists handle their role in child abuse and neglect matters

Uldum, Birgitte, Christensen, Hanne Nødgaard, Welbury, Richard orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9322-2440 and Haubek, Dorte (2017) How Danish dentists and dental hygienists handle their role in child abuse and neglect matters. Acta Odontologica Scandinavica . pp. 1-6. ISSN 0001-6357

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Objective: To identify how the dental team perceives its role in safeguarding children, to identify barriers to referral to social services, to compare data with data previously reported from Denmark, and to assess if increased focus on safeguarding children has had an effect on how the dental team handles its responsibility to refer to social services.
Material and methods: The study is based on a Danish version of a questionnaire previously used in Scotland and Denmark. The questionnaire was sent to a random sample of the Danish dental team.
Results: The number of returned questionnaires was 964 (67.0 %) with valid data. Of these, 40.8% had had a suspicion of child abuse or neglect and 50.0 % had referred their concern to social services. Frequently reported barriers to referral were uncertainty about observations, signs, and symptoms of abuse and neglect, and uncertainty about referral procedures. A total of 84 (8.9%) of the respondents had received both undergraduate and postgraduate training on the topic, and 64.4% of the respondents found that the dental staff could recognize signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect.
Conclusion: Findings suggest a continuous need for a focus on the awareness and training of the Danish dental staff on the important topic of child abuse and neglect.

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