Objectives: To characterize the changes regarding the diagnosis of physical abuse provided to Child Protective Services (CPS) when CPS asks a Child Abuse Pediatrics (CAP) specialty group for a second opinion and works in concert with that CAP group. Methods: Subjects were reported to CPS for suspected physical abuse and were first evaluated by a physician without specialized training in Child Abuse Pediatrics (non-CAP physician). Subjects were then referred to the area's only Child Abuse Pediatrics (CAP physician) group, located in a large metropolitan pediatrics center in the United States, for further evaluation. The diagnoses regarding abuse provided by CAP physicians working in concert with CPS were compared to those provided to CPS by other physicians. Results: Two hundred consecutive patients were included in the study. In 85 (42.5%) cases, non-CAP physicians did not provide a diagnosis regarding abuse, despite initiating the abuse report to CPS or being asked by CPS to evaluate the child for physical abuse. Of the remaining 115 cases, the diagnosis regarding abuse differed between non-CAP physicians and CAP physicians working in concert with CPS in 49 cases (42.6%; κ = .14; 95% CI, -.02, .29). In 40 of the 49 cases (81.6%), CAP assessments indicated less concern for abuse when compared to non-CAP assessments. Differences in diagnosis were three times more likely in children from a nonurban location (OR 3.24; 95% CI, 1.01, 11.36). Conclusions: In many cases of possible child physical abuse, non-CAP providers do not provide CPS with a diagnosis regarding abuse despite initiating the abuse investigation or being consulted by CPS for an abuse evaluation. CPS consultation with a CAP specialty group as a second opinion, along with continued information exchange and team collaboration, frequently results in a different diagnosis regarding abuse. Non-CAP providers may not have time, resources, or expertise to provide CPS with appropriate abuse evaluations in all cases. Practice implications: Though non-CAP providers may appropriately evaluate many cases of physical abuse, the diagnosis regarding abuse provided to CPS may be changed in some cases when CAP physicians are consulted and actively collaborate with CPS investigators. Availability of Child Abuse Pediatrics subspecialty services to investigators is warranted.
- Child Protective Services
- Child abuse
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health