Child abuse and neglect: a comparative study between dental and medical students' competencies in Germany


Meyer LM, Lehmann T, Schüler IM. Eur. J. Dent. Educ. 2023; ePub(ePub): ePub.


(Copyright © 2023, John Wiley and Sons)






INTRODUCTION: Despite children's right to a non-violent upbringing, they become daily victims of violence. Physical violence concerns mostly the head-especially the orofacial area. Therefore, dentists and paediatricians should be able to suspect possible abuse and to initiate child protection. This study aimed to record and compare the training situation and competencies of dental and medical students at Jena University Hospital regarding child abuse and neglect (CAN).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Using a three-part questionnaire about CAN, 123 medical and 77 dental students were surveyed anonymously after completing all courses on the topic. The question sets included as follows: (1) educational experiences, training content and satisfaction; (2) current knowledge regarding diagnostic, management and legal concerns; (3) self-evaluation, needs of further education and wishes. Reliability of the questionnaire was tested with kappa-statistics and assessed as good.

RESULTS: Dental and medical students' overall satisfaction with CAN-related training is low. Although medical students had more knowledge on CAN, all participants showed large deficits. Better diagnostic than management skills were reported in both groups. Only 1.3% dental and 16.3% medical students felt adequately prepared to deal with CAN. 7% of all study participants stated that they can report CAN without any help. 87.0% of medical and 79.2% of dental students expressed a desire for further education. To improve their knowledge, both courses prefer seminars, followed by expert talks, lectures and simulation-based training (SkillsLab).

CONCLUSION: Dental and medical students are inadequately prepared to suspect possible abuse and to deal with possible signs of CAN. Mandatory interdisciplinary courses and lectures addressing CAN are recommendable for both medical and dental curricula.