Among various health professionals, general dental professionals (GDPs) screen children frequently, giving them a unique opportunity to act upon suspicion of child maltreatment. The dental team has received considerable attention regarding safeguarding children.
The aims of this study were to explore whether GDPs have mutual collaboration and communication with the Child Welfare Services (CWS), and potential barriers for reporting child maltreatment.
An electronically pre‐coded questionnaire was sent to all GDPs (n = 131) in the Public Dental Health Service (PDHS) in Oslo. Frequency distributions and statistical analysis were carried out by chi‐squared statistics and multivariate logistic regression analysis.
The response rate was 75%. Ninety per cent of GDPs had received requests from CWS to provide a child's dental chart. General dental professionals reported child maltreatment frequently (71%), but CWS only gave feedback in 55% of the cases. Uncertainty was the most common reason for not reporting and 33% of the GDPs had chosen not to send a report despite suspicion. Using guidelines increased frequency of reporting (OR 3.6).
Mutual collaboration and communication should be improved in the task of safeguarding children. Uncertainty and lack of guidelines may act as barriers for not reporting to the CWS.
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