Experience with suspecting child maltreatment in the Norwegian public dental health services, a national survey
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Objective: Detecting and responding to child-maltreatment is a serious challenge and public health concern. In Norway, public dental health personnel (PDHP) have a mandatory obligation to report to child welfare services (CWS) if they suspect child-maltreatment. This study aimed to assess PDHP’s frequency of reporting and failing to report to CWS and whether the frequencies varied according to personal, organizational and external characteristics. Material and methods: An electronic questionnaire was sent to 1542 public dental hygienists and dentists in Norway, 1200 of who responded (77.8%). Results: The majority 60.0%, reported having sent reports of concern to CWS throughout their career, 32.6% had suspected child-maltreatment but failed to report it in their career and 42.5% had sent reports during the three-year period from 2012 to 2014. The reporting frequency to CWS was influenced by PDHP’s personal, organizational and external characteristics, while failure to report was influenced by personal characteristics. Conclusions: Compared to international studies, PDHP in Norway sends reports of concern and fails to report to CWS at relatively high rates. PDHP's likelihood of reporting was influenced by age, working experience, number of patients treated, size of the municipality and geographical region, while failure to report to CWS was influenced by working experience.