Reporting of child abuse: A follow-up survey of Texas dentists

Samer A. Bsoul, Diane J. Flint, Brent Dove, David R. Senn, Marden E. Alder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Purpose: Child abuse is a disturbingly common finding in society today. There have been substantial and significant increases in the incidence of child abuse since the last national incidence study was conducted in 1986. Kassebaum first reported the under-reporting of child abuse by Texas dental professionals in a survey in 1986. The objective of the current study was twofold: (1) assess the level of knowledge and attitudes among dental professionals on the important issue of child abuse; (2) evaluate and compare the results of the current study with a similar survey conducted in 1986. Methods: A 24-question survey similar in format and content to the 1986 questionnaire was mailed to 1, 046 Texas dentists, randomly selected from a membership roster provided by the Texas Dental Association. Both general dentists and selected specialists were included in the study group. The questionnaire consisted of multiple-choice and dichotomous yes/no questions. Results: There were 383 responses to the questionnaire, yielding a response rate of 38%. The majority (N=289) of the respondents were general dentists. In answering questions about suspected and reported cases of child abuse, nearly 50% of the responding dentists reported they had suspected at least 1 case of child abuse. In the 1986 study, only 36% of the responding dentists reported they had suspected at least 1 case of child abuse. Between 1986 and 2001, the survey has shown that the percentage of dentists who reported at least 1 case to authorities slightly increased from 19% in 1986 to 25% in 2001, but the ratio of suspected to reported cases had not changed since 1986. Conclusions: Although the composite percentage of suspecting and reporting cases of child abuse from this survey is higher than the percentage demonstrated in 1986 study, there was no significant change in the relative ratio of reported cases to suspected cases in both surveys. This indicates that under-reporting of child abuse cases is still a significant problem in the dental profession in Texas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-545
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric dentistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Child abuse
  • Reporting child abuse
  • Texas dentists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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