OBJECTIVE. The goal was to assess the knowledge and confidence in recognition, management, documentation, and reporting of child maltreatment among a representative sample of emergency medical services personnel in the United States.
METHODS. A questionnaire was developed and pilot-tested, with the input of experts in emergency medical services and child maltreatment, to assess knowledge, attitudes, confidence, and training needs regarding assessment and treatment of child maltreatment. The questionnaire was distributed nationally to a random sample of prehospital providers by using a previously validated sampling plan.
RESULTS. Of 2863 surveys sent to prehospital providers, 1237 (43%) were returned. Most prehospital providers reported receiving ≤1 hour of continuing medical education regarding child maltreatment. Most (78%) asked for additional educational opportunities, with only 3% stating that they required no additional training. Participants lacked knowledge regarding the developmental abilities of children, management of families in which child maltreatment is suspected, key elements of the history that should be noted, and the degree of suspicion necessary for reporting.
CONCLUSIONS. Prehospital providers expressed confidence in their abilities to recognize and to manage cases of child abuse and neglect; however, significant deficiencies were reported in several critical knowledge areas, including identification of child maltreatment, interviewing techniques, and appropriate documentation.