Child abuse physicians: coping with challenges

Flaherty, E. G.; Schwartz, K.; Jones, R. D.; Sege, R. D.

Eval Health Prof. 2012 Sep 11; 36(2):163-73

Abstract

This article explores how child abuse physicians (CAPs) experience the unique challenges of the emerging field of child abuse pediatrics. Practicing CAPs completed a written survey about known challenges in their field. Fifty-six CAPs completed the written survey and reported experiencing many negative consequences including: threats to their personal safety (52%), formal complaints to supervisors (50%) and licensing bodies (13%), negative stories in the media (23%), and malpractice suits (16%). A purposeful sample of CAPs participated in telephone interviews about these challenges. The 19 physicians who were interviewed described the challenges, while they spontaneously expressed satisfaction with their career and described some strategies for coping with the stresses of child abuse pediatrics. The findings highlight the stressors and challenges that may affect the ability to maintain an adequate CAP workforce. Better understanding of the challenges should help prepare physicians to practice this subspecialty.

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