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1.  Facilitators and barriers to screening for child abuse in the emergency department 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:167.
To identify facilitators of, and barriers to, screening for child abuse in emergency departments (ED) through interviews with ED staff, members of the hospital Board, and related experts.
This qualitative study is based on semi-structured interviews with 27 professionals from seven Dutch hospitals (i.e. seven pediatricians, two surgeons, six ED nurses, six ED managers and six hospital Board members). The resulting list of facilitators/barriers was subsequently discussed with five experts in child abuse and one implementation expert. The results are ordered using the Child Abuse Framework of the Dutch Health Care Inspectorate that legally requires screening for child abuse.
Lack of knowledge of child abuse, communication with parents in the case of suspected abuse, and lack of time for development of policy and cases are barriers for ED staff to screen for child abuse. For Board members, lack of means and time, and a high turnover of ED staff are impediments to improving their child abuse policy. Screening can be promoted by training ED staff to better recognize child abuse, improving communication skills, appointing an attendant specifically for child abuse, explicit support of the screening policy by management, and by national implementation of an approved protocol and validated screening instrument.
ED staff are motivated to work according to the Dutch Health Care Inspectorate requirements but experiences many barriers, particularly communication with parents of children suspected of being abused. Introduction of a national child abuse protocol can improve screening on child abuse at EDs.
PMCID: PMC3502173  PMID: 23092228
Child abuse; Emergency department; Screening; Qualitative study
2.  School Playground Surfacing and Arm Fractures in Children: A Cluster Randomized Trial Comparing Sand to Wood Chip Surfaces 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(12):e1000195.
In a randomized trial of elementary schools in Toronto, Andrew Howard and colleagues show that granitic sand playground surfaces reduce the risk of arm fractures from playground falls when compared with wood fiber surfaces.
The risk of playground injuries, especially fractures, is prevalent in children, and can result in emergency room treatment and hospital admissions. Fall height and surface area are major determinants of playground fall injury risk. The primary objective was to determine if there was a difference in playground upper extremity fracture rates in school playgrounds with wood fibre surfacing versus granite sand surfacing. Secondary objectives were to determine if there were differences in overall playground injury rates or in head injury rates in school playgrounds with wood fibre surfacing compared to school playgrounds with granite sand surfacing.
Methods and Findings
The cluster randomized trial comprised 37 elementary schools in the Toronto District School Board in Toronto, Canada with a total of 15,074 students. Each school received qualified funding for installation of new playground equipment and surfacing. The risk of arm fracture from playground falls onto granitic sand versus onto engineered wood fibre surfaces was compared, with an outcome measure of estimated arm fracture rate per 100,000 student-months. Schools were randomly assigned by computer generated list to receive either a granitic sand or an engineered wood fibre playground surface (Fibar), and were not blinded. Schools were visited to ascertain details of the playground and surface actually installed and to observe the exposure to play and to periodically monitor the depth of the surfacing material. Injury data, including details of circumstance and diagnosis, were collected at each school by a prospective surveillance system with confirmation of injury details through a validated telephone interview with parents and also through collection (with consent) of medical reports regarding treated injuries. All schools were recruited together at the beginning of the trial, which is now closed after 2.5 years of injury data collection. Compliant schools included 12 schools randomized to Fibar that installed Fibar and seven schools randomized to sand that installed sand. Noncompliant schools were added to the analysis to complete a cohort type analysis by treatment received (two schools that were randomized to Fibar but installed sand and seven schools that were randomized to sand but installed Fibar). Among compliant schools, an arm fracture rate of 1.9 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.04–6.9) per 100,000 student-months was observed for falls into sand, compared with an arm fracture rate of 9.4 (95% CI 3.7–21.4) for falls onto Fibar surfaces (p≤0.04905). Among all schools, the arm fracture rate was 4.5 (95% CI 0.26–15.9) per 100,000 student-months for falls into sand compared with 12.9 (95% CI 5.1–30.1) for falls onto Fibar surfaces. No serious head injuries and no fatalities were observed in either group.
Granitic sand playground surfaces reduce the risk of arm fractures from playground falls when compared with engineered wood fibre surfaces. Upgrading playground surfacing standards to reflect this information will prevent arm fractures.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN02647424
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Playgrounds and outdoor play equipment provide children with a place to let steam off, play creatively, socialize, and learn new skills. And, in a world where childhood obesity is a burgeoning problem, playgrounds provide a place where children can be encouraged to exercise. But playgrounds are not without hazards. Even in well-maintained and well-run facilities, children can hurt themselves by falling off climbing frames, monkey bars, and other equipment or by falling from standing height during playground games such as tag. In the US alone, more than 200,000 children are treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained in playgrounds every year and about 6,400 children are admitted to hospitals because of playground injuries, most of which are bone fractures (broken bones). In fact, playground injuries in the US are more severe and have a higher hospital admission rate than any other sort of child injury except those involving vehicles.
Why Was This Study Done?
Children who fall off playground equipment are nearly four times as likely to break a bone (often in an arm) as children who fall from standing height. To reduce the number of fractures that occur in playgrounds, some governments have limited the height of playground equipment. Some have also set standards for the type of surfaces installed in playgrounds and for the depth of sand or engineered wood fiber in loose fill surfaces. These standards are based on laboratory tests in which headforms (artificial heads) are dropped onto surfaces. However, these tests provide no information about the ability of different surfaces to prevent broken arms and other specific injuries in the real world. In this cluster randomized trial (a study in which groups of people are randomly assigned to receive different interventions), the researchers compare the rates of arm fractures in elementary (primary) school playgrounds in Toronto (Canada) that have wood fiber surfacing with the rates in playgrounds that have granite sand surfacing.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned 37 elementary schools that had qualified for school board funding for replacement playground equipment to receive either wood fiber (19 schools) or granite sand surfacing (18 schools) in their playgrounds. 19 of the schools complied with their randomization (12 installed fiber and seven installed sand); two schools installed sand although they were randomized to install fiber and seven schools installed fiber instead of sand. The researchers evaluated the playgrounds and their surfaces several times during the 2.5-year study and collected data on how playground injuries happened and types of injuries from the schools, parents, and medical reports. Among the schools that complied with randomization, falls from height into sand resulted in 1.9 arm fractures per 100,000 student-months whereas falls into fiber resulted in 9.4 arm fractures per 100,000 student-months. Arm fracture rates and other injury rates were also higher for falls from height into fiber than into sand when all the schools that had installed new surfaces were considered. However, the rates of arm fracture and other injuries that did not involve a fall from height did not vary between surfaces.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The accuracy of these findings is limited by the small number of arm fractures that occurred during the trial—only 20 children who fell into fiber and two who fell into sand broke an arm. The accuracy of the findings may also be limited by the failure of many schools to comply with randomization although the researchers found no obvious differences between the schools that did and did not comply with randomization that might have affected the trial's outcome. However, even with these limitations, the findings of this real-world study indicate that granitic sand surfaces substantially reduce the risk of arm fractures and other injuries caused by falls from playground equipment when compared with wood fiber surfaces. Thus, because falls from playground equipment are more likely to cause a fracture than falls from standing height, if playground surfacing standards are adjusted to reflect the findings of this study (that is, if sand surfaces are recommended in preference to wood fiber surfaces), many arm fractures in children should be prevented.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at ttp://
Safe Kids Canada provides information about playground safety and other aspects of childhood safety (in English and French)
Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury (in English and Spanish)
The Nemours Foundation, a nonprofit organization for child health, provides information for parents on playground safety
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents provides information on the safety of indoor and outdoor play areas
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides fact sheets on playground injuries
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission also has information on playground safety, including resources designed for children such as The Further Adventures of Kidd Safety and Little Big Kids, a booklet on play safety written by children for children
PMCID: PMC2784292  PMID: 20016688
3.  Screening for Occult Abdominal Trauma in Children with Suspected Physical Abuse 
Pediatrics  2009;124(6):1595.
Abusive abdominal trauma may be difficult to diagnose, and even serious abdominal injury may be missed. Screening for occult abdominal trauma (OAT) has been recommended by child abuse experts. However, it is unclear how often screening occurs, and what factors are associated with screening.
(1) To determine the prevalence of OAT in a sample of children with suspected physical abuse. (2) To assess the frequency of OAT screening. (3) To assess factors associated with screening.
Patients and Methods
Charts of children evaluated for abusive injury were identified via a search of hospital discharge codes. Identified charts were reviewed to determine whether OAT screening occurred. Data were collected regarding results of screening tests, abusive injuries identified, family demographics, and characteristics of the emergency department visit.
Screening occurred in 51 of 244 eligible children (20%). Positive screens were identified in 41% of those screened, and 9% of the total sample. 5% of children aged 12–23 months had OAT identified by imaging studies. Screening occurred more often in children presenting with probable abusive head trauma [OR=20.4, 95% CI (3.6–114.6), p<0..01] compared to those presenting with other injuries. Subspecialty consultation from the Child Protection Team [OR=8.5, 95% CI (3.5–20.7), p<0.01] and other subspecialists [OR=24.3, 95% CI (7.1–83.3), p<0.01] also increased the likelihood that OAT screening would occur.
Our findings support OAT screening with liver and pancreatic enzymes for physically abused children. This study also supports the importance of subspecialty input, especially that of a Child Protection Team. Although many identified injuries may not require treatment, their role in confirming, or demonstrating increased severity of maltreatment can play a critical role in protecting children.
PMCID: PMC2813699  PMID: 19933726
Child abuse; abdominal trauma; screening
4.  Observational study of suspected maltreatment in Italian paediatric emergency departments 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2005;90(4):406-410.
Aims: To evaluate how often children seen in paediatric accident & emergency (A&E) departments were suspected of abuse or neglect, and to explore some of the correlates of suspected child maltreatment.
Methods: Multicentre, cross-sectional study of 15 randomised census days during a six month period. Trained research assistants working with local paediatric staff completed a purpose made anonymised checklist covering sociodemographic and medical information. A six point suspicion index was used to rate compatibility with child maltreatment based on the occurrence of observable harm. Statistical analysis was carried out on the basis that a score of 4 or more was suspicious of child maltreatment. Nineteen hospitals provided standardised paediatric A&E consultation data on 0–14 year olds presenting between 10 am and 10 pm.
Results: Of 10 175 assessed children, 204 aroused suspicion of child maltreatment (95% CI 163 to 214 per 10 000). In a logistic regression model of suspected maltreatment statistically significant associations were found with socioeconomic disadvantage, children living in single parent families, and developmental delay. There was no correlation with pre-school age, male gender, foreign origin, or living in urban areas.
Conclusions: Child maltreatment based on immediate scoring of suspicion, focused on observable harm, occurred in 2% of a representative sample of paediatric emergency consultations in Italy. This was more common if there were associated social and developmental vulnerabilities. True prevalence of child maltreatment in emergency departments remains elusive because of changing definitions and forensic validation problems.
PMCID: PMC1720360  PMID: 15781934
5.  Child protection procedures in emergency departments 
Emergency Medicine Journal : EMJ  2007;24(12):831-835.
Emergency departments (EDs) may be the first point at which children who have been subject to abuse or neglect come into contact with professionals who are able to act for their protection. In order to ascertain current procedures for identifying and managing child abuse, we conducted a survey of EDs in England and Northern Ireland.
Questionnaires were sent to the lead professionals in a random sample of 81 EDs in England and 20 in Northern Ireland. Departments were asked to provide copies of their procedures for child protection. These were analysed qualitatively using a structured template.
A total of 74 questionnaires were returned. 91.3% of departments had written protocols for child protection. Of these, 27 provided copies of their protocols for analysis. Factors judged to improve the practical usefulness of protocols included: those that were brief; were specific to the department; incorporated both medical and nursing management; included relevant contact details; included a single page flow chart which could be accessed separately. 25/71 (35.2%) departments reported that they used a checklist to highlight concerns. The most common factors on the checklists included an inconsistent history or one which did not match the examination; frequent attendances; delay in presentation; or concerns about the child's appearance or behaviour, or the parent–child interaction.
There is a lack of consistency in the approach to identifying and responding to child abuse in EDs. Drawing on the results of this survey, we are able to suggest good practice guidelines for the management of suspected child abuse in EDs. Minimum standards could improve management and facilitate clinical audit and relevant training.
PMCID: PMC2658353  PMID: 18029514
6.  Introduction of HIV post-exposure prophylaxis for sexually abused children in Malawi 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2005;90(12):1297-1299.
Aims: To improve the care of children who are victims of child sexual abuse (CSA) by routinely assessing eligibility for HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and to investigate the feasibility, safety, and efficacy of such treatment started in a paediatric emergency department in Malawi.
Methods: Children presenting to the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre between 1 January 2004 and 31 December 2004 with a history of alleged CSA were assessed for eligibility for HIV PEP and followed prospectively for six months.
Results: A total of 64 children presented with a history of alleged CSA in the 12 month period; 17 were offered PEP. The remainder were not offered PEP because of absence of physical signs of abuse (n = 20), delay in presentation beyond 72 hours from assault (n = 11), repeated sexual abuse in the preceding six months (n = 15), and HIV infection found on initial testing (n = 1). No family refused an HIV test. No side effects due to antiretroviral therapy were reported. Of the 17 children commenced on PEP, 11 returned for review after one month, seven returned at three months, and two of 15 returned at six months post-assault. None have seroconverted.
Conclusions: In a resource-poor setting with a high HIV prevalence, HIV PEP following CSA is acceptable, safe, and feasible. HIV PEP should be incorporated in to national guidelines in countries with a high community prevalence of HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC1720206  PMID: 16174638
7.  Hospital Based Emergency Department Visits Attributed to Child Physical Abuse in United States: Predictors of In-Hospital Mortality 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100110.
To describe nationally representative outcomes of physical abuse injuries in children necessitating Emergency Department (ED) visits in United States. The impact of various injuries on mortality is examined. We hypothesize that physical abuse resulting in intracranial injuries are associated with worse outcome.
Materials and Methods
We performed a retrospective analysis of the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS), the largest all payer hospital based ED database, for the years 2008–2010. All ED visits and subsequent hospitalizations with a diagnosis of “Child physical abuse” (Battered baby or child syndrome) due to various injuries were identified using ICD-9-CM (International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification) codes. In addition, we also examined the prevalence of sexual abuse in this cohort. A multivariable logistic regression model was used to examine the association between mortality and types of injuries after adjusting for a multitude of patient and hospital level factors.
Of the 16897 ED visits that were attributed to child physical abuse, 5182 (30.7%) required hospitalization. Hospitalized children were younger than those released treated and released from the ED (1.9 years vs. 6.4 years). Male or female partner of the child’s parent/guardian accounted for >45% of perpetrators. Common injuries in hospitalized children include- any fractures (63.5%), intracranial injuries (32.3%) and crushing/internal injuries (9.1%). Death occurred in 246 patients (13 in ED and 233 following hospitalization). Amongst the 16897 ED visits, 1.3% also had sexual abuse. Multivariable analyses revealed each 1 year increase in age was associated with a lower odds of mortality (OR = 0.88, 95% CI = 0.81–0.96, p<0.0001). Females (OR = 2.39, 1.07–5.34, p = 0.03), those with intracranial injuries (OR = 65.24, 27.57–154.41, p<0.0001), or crushing/internal injury (OR = 4.98, 2.24–11.07, p<0.0001) had higher odds of mortality compared to their male counterparts.
In this large cohort of physically abused children, younger age, females and intracranial or crushing/internal injuries were independent predictors of mortality. Identification of high risk cohorts in the ED may enable strengthening of existing screening programs and optimization of outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4053408  PMID: 24919088
8.  Monitoring the Impact of Influenza by Age: Emergency Department Fever and Respiratory Complaint Surveillance in New York City 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(8):e247.
The importance of understanding age when estimating the impact of influenza on hospitalizations and deaths has been well described, yet existing surveillance systems have not made adequate use of age-specific data. Monitoring influenza-related morbidity using electronic health data may provide timely and detailed insight into the age-specific course, impact and epidemiology of seasonal drift and reassortment epidemic viruses. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of emergency department (ED) chief complaint data for measuring influenza-attributable morbidity by age and by predominant circulating virus.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed electronically reported ED fever and respiratory chief complaint and viral surveillance data in New York City (NYC) during the 2001–2002 through 2005–2006 influenza seasons, and inferred dominant circulating viruses from national surveillance reports. We estimated influenza-attributable impact as observed visits in excess of a model-predicted baseline during influenza periods, and epidemic timing by threshold and cross correlation. We found excess fever and respiratory ED visits occurred predominantly among school-aged children (8.5 excess ED visits per 1,000 children aged 5–17 y) with little or no impact on adults during the early-2002 B/Victoria-lineage epidemic; increased fever and respiratory ED visits among children younger than 5 y during respiratory syncytial virus-predominant periods preceding epidemic influenza; and excess ED visits across all ages during the 2003–2004 (9.2 excess visits per 1,000 population) and 2004–2005 (5.2 excess visits per 1,000 population) A/H3N2 Fujian-lineage epidemics, with the relative impact shifted within and between seasons from younger to older ages. During each influenza epidemic period in the study, ED visits were increased among school-aged children, and each epidemic peaked among school-aged children before other impacted age groups.
Influenza-related morbidity in NYC was highly age- and strain-specific. The impact of reemerging B/Victoria-lineage influenza was focused primarily on school-aged children born since the virus was last widespread in the US, while epidemic A/Fujian-lineage influenza affected all age groups, consistent with a novel antigenic variant. The correspondence between predominant circulating viruses and excess ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths shows that excess fever and respiratory ED visits provide a reliable surrogate measure of incident influenza-attributable morbidity. The highly age-specific impact of influenza by subtype and strain suggests that greater age detail be incorporated into ongoing surveillance. Influenza morbidity surveillance using electronic data currently available in many jurisdictions can provide timely and representative information about the age-specific epidemiology of circulating influenza viruses.
Don Olson and colleagues report that influenza-related morbidity in NYC from 2001 to 2006 was highly age- and strain-specific and conclude that surveillance using electronic data can provide timely and representative information about the epidemiology of circulating influenza viruses.
Editors' Summary
Seasonal outbreaks (epidemics) of influenza (a viral infection of the nose, throat, and airways) send millions of people to their beds every winter. Most recover quickly, but flu epidemics often disrupt daily life and can cause many deaths. Seasonal epidemics occur because influenza viruses continually make small changes to the viral proteins (antigens) that the human immune system recognizes. Consequently, an immune response that combats influenza one year may provide partial or no protection the following year. Occasionally, an influenza virus with large antigenic changes emerges that triggers an influenza pandemic, or global epidemic. To help prepare for both seasonal epidemics and pandemics, public-health officials monitor influenza-related illness and death, investigate unusual outbreaks of respiratory diseases, and characterize circulating strains of the influenza virus. While traditional influenza-related illness surveillance systems rely on relatively slow voluntary clinician reporting of cases with influenza-like illness symptoms, some jurisdictions have also started to use “syndromic” surveillance systems. These use electronic health-related data rather than clinical impression to track illness in the community. For example, increased visits to emergency departments for fever or respiratory (breathing) problems can provide an early warning of an influenza outbreak.
Why Was This Study Done?
Rapid illness surveillance systems have been shown to detect flu outbreaks earlier than is possible through monitoring deaths from pneumonia or influenza. Increases in visits to emergency departments by children for fever or respiratory problems can provide an even earlier indicator. Researchers have not previously examined in detail how fever and respiratory problems by age group correlate with the predominant circulating respiratory viruses. Knowing details like this would help public-health officials detect and respond to influenza epidemics and pandemics. In this study, the researchers have used data collected between 2001 and 2006 in New York City emergency departments to investigate these aspects of syndromic surveillance for influenza.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed emergency department visits categorized broadly into a fever and respiratory syndrome (which provides an estimate of the total visits attributable to influenza) or more narrowly into an influenza-like illness syndrome (which specifically indicates fever with cough and/or sore throat) with laboratory-confirmed influenza surveillance data. They found that emergency department visits were highest during peak influenza periods, and that the affect on different age groups varied depending on the predominant circulating viruses. In early 2002, an epidemic reemergence of B/Victoria-lineage influenza viruses caused increased visits among school-aged children, while adult visits did not increase. By contrast, during the 2003–2004 season, when the predominant virus was an A/H3N2 Fujian-lineage influenza virus, excess visits occurred in all age groups, though the relative increase was greatest and earliest among school-aged children. During periods of documented respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) circulation, increases in fever and respiratory emergency department visits occurred in children under five years of age regardless of influenza circulation. Finally, the researchers found that excess visits to emergency departments for fever and respiratory symptoms preceded deaths from pneumonia or influenza by about two weeks.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that excess emergency department visits for fever and respiratory symptoms can provide a reliable and timely surrogate measure of illness due to influenza. They also provide new insights into how different influenza viruses affect people of different ages and how the timing and progression of each influenza season differs. These results, based on data collected over only five years in one city, might not be generalizable to other settings or years, warn the researchers. However, the present results strongly suggest that the routine monitoring of influenza might be improved by using electronic health-related data, such as emergency department visit data, and by examining it specifically by age group. Furthermore, by showing that school-aged children can be the first people to be affected by seasonal influenza, these results highlight the important role this age group plays in community-wide transmission of influenza, an observation that could influence the implementation of public-health strategies such as vaccination that aim to protect communities during influenza epidemics and pandemics.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on influenza for patients and health professionals and on influenza surveillance in the US (in English, Spanish, and several other languages)
• World Health Organization has a fact sheet on influenza and on global surveillance for influenza (in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, and Chinese)
• The MedlinePlus encyclopedia contains a page on flu (in English and Spanish)
• US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has a feature called “focus on flu”
• A detailed report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention titled “Framework for Evaluating Public Health Surveillance Systems for Early Detection of Outbreaks” includes a simple description of syndromic surveillance
• The International Society for Disease Surveillance has a collaborative syndromic surveillance public wiki
• The Anthropology of the Contemporary Research Collaboratory includes working papers and discussions by cultural anthropologists studying modern vital systems security and syndromic surveillance
PMCID: PMC1939858  PMID: 17683196
9.  The Effectiveness of Community Action in Reducing Risky Alcohol Consumption and Harm: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001617.
In a cluster randomized controlled trial, Anthony Shakeshaft and colleagues measure the effectiveness of a multi-component community-based intervention for reducing alcohol-related harm.
The World Health Organization, governments, and communities agree that community action is likely to reduce risky alcohol consumption and harm. Despite this agreement, there is little rigorous evidence that community action is effective: of the six randomised trials of community action published to date, all were US-based and focused on young people (rather than the whole community), and their outcomes were limited to self-report or alcohol purchase attempts. The objective of this study was to conduct the first non-US randomised controlled trial (RCT) of community action to quantify the effectiveness of this approach in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms measured using both self-report and routinely collected data.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster RCT comprising 20 communities in Australia that had populations of 5,000–20,000, were at least 100 km from an urban centre (population ≥ 100,000), and were not involved in another community alcohol project. Communities were pair-matched, and one member of each pair was randomly allocated to the experimental group. Thirteen interventions were implemented in the experimental communities from 2005 to 2009: community engagement; general practitioner training in alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI); feedback to key stakeholders; media campaign; workplace policies/practices training; school-based intervention; general practitioner feedback on their prescribing of alcohol medications; community pharmacy-based SBI; web-based SBI; Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services support for SBI; Good Sports program for sports clubs; identifying and targeting high-risk weekends; and hospital emergency department–based SBI. Primary outcomes based on routinely collected data were alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions. Routinely collected data for the entire study period (2001–2009) were obtained in 2010. Secondary outcomes based on pre- and post-intervention surveys (n = 2,977 and 2,255, respectively) were the following: long-term risky drinking, short-term high-risk drinking, short-term risky drinking, weekly consumption, hazardous/harmful alcohol use, and experience of alcohol harm. At the 5% level of statistical significance, there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the interventions were effective in the experimental, relative to control, communities for alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions, and for rates of risky alcohol consumption and hazardous/harmful alcohol use. Although respondents in the experimental communities reported statistically significantly lower average weekly consumption (1.90 fewer standard drinks per week, 95% CI = −3.37 to −0.43, p = 0.01) and less alcohol-related verbal abuse (odds ratio = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.35 to 0.96, p = 0.04) post-intervention, the low survey response rates (40% and 24% for the pre- and post-intervention surveys, respectively) require conservative interpretation. The main limitations of this study are as follows: (1) that the study may have been under-powered to detect differences in routinely collected data outcomes as statistically significant, and (2) the low survey response rates.
This RCT provides little evidence that community action significantly reduces risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms, other than potential reductions in self-reported average weekly consumption and experience of alcohol-related verbal abuse. Complementary legislative action may be required to more effectively reduce alcohol harms.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12607000123448
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
People have consumed alcoholic beverages throughout history, but alcohol use is now an increasing global public health problem. According to the World Health Organization's 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, alcohol use is the fifth leading risk factor (after high blood pressure and smoking) for disease and is responsible for 3.9% of the global disease burden. Alcohol use contributes to heart disease, liver disease, depression, some cancers, and many other health conditions. Alcohol also affects the well-being and health of people around those who drink, through alcohol-related crimes and road traffic crashes. The impact of alcohol use on disease and injury depends on the amount of alcohol consumed and the pattern of drinking. Most guidelines define long-term risky drinking as more than four drinks per day on average for men or more than two drinks per day for women (a “drink” is, roughly speaking, a can of beer or a small glass of wine), and short-term risky drinking (also called binge drinking) as seven or more drinks on a single occasion for men or five or more drinks on a single occasion for women. However, recent changes to the Australian guidelines acknowledge that a lower level of alcohol consumption is considered risky (with lifetime risky drinking defined as more than two drinks a day and binge drinking defined as more than four drinks on one occasion).
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2010, the World Health Assembly endorsed a global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. This strategy emphasizes the importance of community action–a process in which a community defines its own needs and determines the actions that are required to meet these needs. Although community action is highly acceptable to community members, few studies have looked at the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm. Here, the researchers undertake a cluster randomized controlled trial (the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities [AARC] project) to quantify the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms in rural communities in Australia. A cluster randomized trial compares outcomes in clusters of people (here, communities) who receive alternative interventions assigned through the play of chance.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers pair-matched 20 rural Australian communities according to the proportion of their population that was Aboriginal (rates of alcohol-related harm are disproportionately higher among Aboriginal individuals than among non-Aboriginal individuals in Australia; they are also higher among young people and males, but the proportions of these two groups across communities was comparable). They randomly assigned one member of each pair to the experimental group and implemented 13 interventions in these communities by negotiating with key individuals in each community to define and implement each intervention. Examples of interventions included general practitioner training in screening for alcohol use disorders and in implementing a brief intervention, and a school-based interactive session designed to reduce alcohol harm among young people. The researchers quantified the effectiveness of the interventions using routinely collected data on alcohol-related crime and road traffic crashes, and on hospital inpatient admissions for alcohol dependence or abuse (which were expected to increase in the experimental group if the intervention was effective because of more people seeking or being referred for treatment). They also examined drinking habits and experiences of alcohol-related harm, such as verbal abuse, among community members using pre- and post-intervention surveys. After implementation of the interventions, the rates of alcohol-related crime, road traffic crashes, and hospital admissions, and of risky and hazardous/harmful alcohol consumption (measured using a validated tool called the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) were not statistically significantly different in the experimental and control communities (a difference in outcomes that is not statistically significantly different can occur by chance). However, the reported average weekly consumption of alcohol was 20% lower in the experimental communities after the intervention than in the control communities (equivalent to 1.9 fewer standard drinks per week per respondent) and there was less alcohol-related verbal abuse post-intervention in the experimental communities than in the control communities.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide little evidence that community action reduced risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms in rural Australian communities. Although there was some evidence of significant reductions in self-reported weekly alcohol consumption and in experiences of alcohol-related verbal abuse, these findings must be interpreted cautiously because they are based on surveys with very low response rates. A larger or differently designed study might provide statistically significant evidence for the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption. However, given their findings, the researchers suggest that legislative approaches that are beyond the control of individual communities, such as alcohol taxation and restrictions on alcohol availability, may be required to effectively reduce alcohol harms. In other words, community action alone may not be the most effective way to reduce alcohol-related harm.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides detailed information about alcohol; its fact sheet on alcohol includes information about the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol; the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health provides further information about alcohol, including information on control policies around the world
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has information about alcohol and its effects on health
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website on alcohol and public health that includes information on the health risks of excessive drinking
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about drinking and alcohol, including information on the risks of drinking too much, tools for calculating alcohol consumption, and personal stories about alcohol use problems
MedlinePlus provides links to many other resources on alcohol
More information about the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities project is available
PMCID: PMC3949675  PMID: 24618831
10.  Femur Fractures in the Pediatric Population: Abuse or Accidental Trauma? 
Child abuse represents a serious threat to the health and well-being of the pediatric population. Orthopaedic specialists will often become involved when child abuse is suspected as a result of the presence of bony injury. Distinguishing abuse from accidental trauma can be difficult and is often based on clinical suspicion.
We sought to determine whether accidental femur fractures in pediatric patients younger than age 4 could be distinguished from child abuse using a combination of presumed risk factors from the history, physical examination findings, radiographic findings, and age.
We searched our institution’s SCAN (Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect) and trauma databases. We identified 70 patients in whom the etiology of their femur fracture was abuse and compared that group with 139 patients who had a femur fracture in whom accidental trauma was the etiology.
A history suspicious for abuse, physical or radiographic evidence of prior injury, and age younger than 18 months were risk factors for abuse. Patients with no risk factors had a 4% chance, patients with one risk factor had a 29% chance, patients with two risk factors had an 87% chance, and patients with all three risk factors had a 92% chance of their femur fracture being a result of abuse.
Clinicians can use this predictive model to guide judgment and referral to social services when seeing femur fractures in very young children in the emergency room.
Level of Evidence
Level III, diagnostic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
PMCID: PMC3032851  PMID: 20373153
11.  Femur Fractures in the Pediatric Population: Abuse or Accidental Trauma? 
Child abuse represents a serious threat to the health and well-being of the pediatric population. Orthopaedic specialists will often become involved when child abuse is suspected as a result of the presence of bony injury. Distinguishing abuse from accidental trauma can be difficult and is often based on clinical suspicion.
We sought to determine whether accidental femur fractures in pediatric patients younger than age 4 could be distinguished from child abuse using a combination of presumed risk factors from the history, physical examination findings, radiographic findings, and age.
We searched our institution’s SCAN (Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect) and trauma databases. We identified 70 patients in whom the etiology of their femur fracture was abuse and compared that group with 139 patients who had a femur fracture in whom accidental trauma was the etiology.
A history suspicious for abuse, physical or radiographic evidence of prior injury, and age younger than 18 months were risk factors for abuse. Patients with no risk factors had a 4% chance, patients with one risk factor had a 29% chance, patients with two risk factors had an 87% chance, and patients with all three risk factors had a 92% chance of their femur fracture being a result of abuse.
Clinicians can use this predictive model to guide judgment and referral to social services when seeing femur fractures in very young children in the emergency room.
Level of Evidence
Level III, diagnostic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
PMCID: PMC3032851  PMID: 20373153
12.  Preventive health care, 2000 update: prevention of child maltreatment 
To update the 1993 report from the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination (now the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care) by reviewing the evidence for the effectiveness of interventions aimed at preventing child maltreatment described in the scientific literature over the past 6 years.
Screening: a variety of techniques including assessment of risk indicators. Prevention: programs including home visitation; comprehensive health care programs; parent education and support, combined services and programs aimed specifically at preventing sexual abuse.
Occurrence of one or more of the subcategories of physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and emotional abuse in childhood.
MEDLINE, PSYCINFO, ERIC and several other databases were searched, experts were consulted, and published recommendations were reviewed. Original research articles and overviews that examined screening for or prevention of child maltreatment were included in the update. No meta-analysis was performed because the range of manoeuvres precluded comparability.
Benefits, harms and costs
Because of the high false-positive rates of screening tests for child maltreatment and the potential for mislabelling people as potential child abusers, the possible harms associated with these screening manoeuvres outweigh the benefits. Two randomized controlled trials showed a reduction in the incidence of childhood maltreatment or outcomes related to physical abuse and neglect among first-time disadvantaged mothers and their infants who received a program of home visitation by nurses in the perinatal period extending through infancy. It is expected that a reduction in incidence of child maltreatment and other outcomes will lead to substantial government savings. Evidence remains inconclusive on the effectiveness of a comprehensive health care program, a parent education and support program, or a combination of services in preventing child maltreatment. Education programs designed to teach children prevention strategies to avoid sexual abuse show increased knowledge and skills but not necessarily reduced abuse.
The systematic review and critical appraisal of the evidence were conducted according to the evidence-based methodology of the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care.
There is further evidence of fair quality to exclude screening procedures aimed at identifying individuals at risk of experiencing or committing child maltreatment (grade D recommendation). There is good evidence to continue recommending a program of home visitation for disadvantaged families during the perinatal period extending through infancy to prevent child abuse and neglect (grade A recommendation). The target group for this program is first-time mothers with one or more of the following characteristics: age less than 19 years, single parent status and low socioeconomic status. The strongest evidence is for an intensive program of home visitation delivered by nurses beginning prenatally and extending until the child's second birthday. There is insufficient evidence to recommend a comprehensive health care program (grade C recommendation), a parent education and support program (grade C recommendation) or a combination of home-based services (grade C recommendation) as a strategy for preventing child maltreatment, but these interventions may be recommended for other reasons. There is insufficient evidence to recommend education programs for the prevention of sexual abuse (grade C recommendation); whether such programs reduce the incidence of sexual abuse has not been established.
The members of the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care reviewed the findings of this analysis through an iterative process. The task force sent the final review and recommendations to selected external expert reviewers, and their feedback was incorporated.
The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care is funded through a partnership between the Provincial and Territorial Ministries of Health and Health Canada.
PMCID: PMC80412  PMID: 11192650
13.  Is early detection of abused children possible?: a systematic review of the diagnostic accuracy of the identification of abused children 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:202.
Early detection of abused children could help decrease mortality and morbidity related to this major public health problem. Several authors have proposed tools to screen for child maltreatment. The aim of this systematic review was to examine the evidence on accuracy of tools proposed to identify abused children before their death and assess if any were adapted to screening.
We searched in PUBMED, PsycINFO, SCOPUS, FRANCIS and PASCAL for studies estimating diagnostic accuracy of tools identifying neglect, or physical, psychological or sexual abuse of children, published in English or French from 1961 to April 2012. We extracted selected information about study design, patient populations, assessment methods, and the accuracy parameters. Study quality was assessed using QUADAS criteria.
A total of 2 280 articles were identified. Thirteen studies were selected, of which seven dealt with physical abuse, four with sexual abuse, one with emotional abuse, and one with any abuse and physical neglect. Study quality was low, even when not considering the lack of gold standard for detection of abused children. In 11 studies, instruments identified abused children only when they had clinical symptoms. Sensitivity of tests varied between 0.26 (95% confidence interval [0.17-0.36]) and 0.97 [0.84-1], and specificity between 0.51 [0.39-0.63] and 1 [0.95-1]. The sensitivity was greater than 90% only for three tests: the absence of scalp swelling to identify children victims of inflicted head injury; a decision tool to identify physically-abused children among those hospitalized in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit; and a parental interview integrating twelve child symptoms to identify sexually-abused children. When the sensitivity was high, the specificity was always smaller than 90%.
In 2012, there is low-quality evidence on the accuracy of instruments for identifying abused children. Identified tools were not adapted to screening because of low sensitivity and late identification of abused children when they have already serious consequences of maltreatment. Development of valid screening instruments is a pre-requisite before considering screening programs.
PMCID: PMC4029314  PMID: 24314318
Child abuse; Child neglect; Systematic review; Diagnostic accuracy
14.  National audit of emergency department child protection procedures 
Emergency Medicine Journal : EMJ  2003;20(3):222-224.
Objective: To assess the compliance with national guidelines on child protection procedures and provision of paediatric services in major English emergency departments.
Background: Victims of child abuse may present to emergency departments, and successful detection and management depends on adequate child protection procedures being in place. Two official documents published in 1999 provide recommendations for child protection procedures and staffing arrangements in emergency departments, and these can be used as standards for audit.
Methods: Structured telephone questionnaire survey of English emergency departments receiving at least 18 000 child attenders per year.
Results: Many of the standards are being met. Areas for improvement include: better access to child protection registers with clearer indications for their use; improved communication with other professionals such as the school nurse; more formal training for medical and nursing staff in the identification of potential indicators of child abuse; and improved awareness of local named professionals with expertise in child protection. More consultants with training in paediatric emergency medicine and more registered children's nurses are needed.
Conclusion: Many nationally agreed recommendations are being met, but there is a need for improved training, increased numbers of specialised staff, and improved communication between professionals. There is considerable variation in practice between departments.
PMCID: PMC1726076  PMID: 12748133
15.  Assessment of Unsuspected Exposure to Drugs of Abuse in Children from a Mediterranean City by Hair Testing 
Hair testing was used to investigate the prevalence of unsuspected exposure to drugs of abuse in a group of children presenting to an urban paediatric emergency department without suggestive signs or symptoms. Hair samples were obtained from 114 children between 24 months and 10 years of age attending the emergency room of Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, Spain. Hair samples from the accompanying parent were also collected. The samples were analyzed for the presence of opiates, cocaine, amphetamines, and cannabinoids by ultra-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Parental sociodemographics and possible drug of abuse history were recorded. Hair samples from twenty-three children (20.1%) were positive for cocaine (concentration range 0.15–3.81 ng/mg hair), those of thirteen children (11.4%) to cannabinoids (Δ9-THC concentration range 0.05–0.54 ng/mg hair), with four samples positive to codeine (0.1–0.25 ng/mg hair), one positive for 2.09 ng methadone per mg hair and one to 6-MAM (0.42 ng/mg hair) and morphine (0. 15 ng/mg hair) . In 69.5 and 69.2% of the positive cocaine and cannabinoids cases respectively, drugs was also found in the hair of accompanying parent. Parental sociodemographics were not associated with children exposure to drugs of abuse. However, the behavioural patterns with potential harmful effects for the child’s health (e.g., tobacco smoking, cannabis, benzodiazepines and/or antidepressants use) were significantly higher in the parents of exposed children. In the light of the obtained results (28% overall children exposure to drugs of abuse) and in agreement with 2009 unsuspected 23% cocaine exposure in pre-school children from the same hospital, we support general hair screening to disclose exposure to drugs of abuse in children from risky environments to provide the basis for specific social and health interventions.
PMCID: PMC3945599  PMID: 24566054
hair testing; drugs of abuse; children; unsuspected exposure
16.  How common is abuse in Greece? Studying cases with femoral fractures 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2001;85(4):289-292.
AIMS—To examine the extent of undiagnosed child abuse in Greece by studying young children with femoral fractures, which may be associated with abuse.
METHODS—Fifty seven consecutive cases of children under 6 years of age with femoral fracture were identified from the Emergency Department Injury Surveillance System database. Controls were 4162 children with other orthopaedic injuries from the same database.
RESULTS—Whereas in the literature about one third of femoral injuries among young children are attributed to child abuse, no child in the studied series had been diagnosed or even investigated in this context. Nevertheless, the pattern of occurrence of femoral injuries was compatible with that of child abuse, in that patients were frequently very young boys of low socioeconomic status, and the accident had frequently occurred under poorly identified or implausible conditions at time periods when most family members were crowded at home.
CONCLUSIONS—Epidemiological risk factors for child abuse characterise femoral fractures in young children in Greece. It appears that child abuse is present in this country as in most other cultures. There is a clear need for refocusing medical personnel and hospital social services so that the problem is revealed, quantified, and appropriately dealt with.

PMCID: PMC1718939  PMID: 11567936
17.  Using GI Syndrome Data as an Early Warning Tool for Norovirus Outbreak Activity 
To assess the relationship between emergency department (ED) and urgent care center (UCC) chief complaint data for gastrointestinal (GI) illness and reported norovirus (NV) outbreaks to develop an early warning tool for NV outbreak activity. The tool will provide an indicator of increasing NV outbreak activity in the community allowing for earlier public health action to mitigate NV outbreaks.
Norovirus infection results in considerable morbidity in the United States where an estimated 21 million illnesses, 70,000 hospitalizations, and 800 deaths are caused by NV annually (1). Additionally, NV is responsible for approximately 50% of foodborne outbreaks (1). Between January 2008 and June 2012, 875 NV outbreaks were reported to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). To assist in detecting possible disease outbreaks such as NV, VDH utilizes the web-based Electronic Surveillance System for Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics (ESSENCE) to monitor and detect public health events across Virginia. ESSENCE performs automated parsing of chief complaint text into 10 syndrome categories, including a non-specific GI syndrome that serves as a proxy for GI illnesses like NV.
ED and UCC chief complaints parsed into the ESSENCE GI syndrome category were compared to confirmed and suspected NV outbreaks across four years. In this study, the analysis periods were defined as week 21 through week 20 of the subsequent year. GI syndrome visits as a proportion of all ED and UCC visits and NV outbreak counts were aggregated by week. Time-series, correlation, and logistic regression analyses were performed. Low NV outbreak activity weeks were defined as those with 4 or fewer outbreaks, and high NV outbreak activity weeks were those with 5 or more outbreaks. Based on low NV outbreak activity weeks, baseline and threshold values for the weekly percent of GI syndrome visits were calculated for each analysis period. Baseline calculation was the average weekly percent of GI syndrome visits from week 21 to week 31 and threshold value was baseline plus two standard deviations. Weekly percent of GI syndrome visits was compared to the threshold value to serve as an indicator of increasing NV outbreak activity.
The study period was from May 18, 2008 to May 19, 2012 (Fig 1). A total of 1,425,728 GI syndrome visits and 804 confirmed and suspected NV outbreaks were analyzed. Weekly visits to ED and UCC facilities with GI syndrome were highly correlated with outbreaks of NV in the community (r =0.809, p <.0001). Median and mean number of NV outbreaks per week were 2 and 4, respectively (range 0–23). NV outbreaks were more prominent during the winter months with peaks occurring between weeks 3–9. Median and mean percent of GI syndrome visits per week were 10.2% and 10.5%, respectively (range 8.9%–12.8%). Weeks with high NV outbreak activity were more likely to occur when the weekly percent of GI syndrome visits had surpassed the threshold value (OR =110.7, 95% CI: 31.9–384.8). On average, weekly percent of GI syndrome visits surpassed the threshold value 1.25 weeks prior to the start of high NV outbreak activity weeks (range 0–3).
These results support the use of syndromic surveillance GI illness data as an early warning indicator of increasing NV outbreak activity in Virginia. This study identified that GI syndrome visits crossed a calculated threshold value on average 1.25 weeks before the initiation of high NV outbreak activity. Although NV outbreaks occur year round, this study attempted to identify an indicator to trigger meaningful risk communication to the community immediately prior to high NV outbreak activity with the goal of reducing the magnitude of NV outbreaks. This early warning tool for NV outbreak activity will be implemented in the following year to validate its effectiveness and timeliness in mitigating NV outbreaks in Virginia.
Percent of Emergency Department and Urgent Care Center Visits with GI Syndrome and Reported Norovirus Outbreaks, Virginia, May 2008-May 2012.
PMCID: PMC3692916
Syndromic surveillance; ESSENCE; Norovirus; GI illness
18.  Health Care Utilization and Costs Associated with Childhood Abuse 
Physical and sexual childhood abuse is associated with poor health across the lifespan. However, the association between these types of abuse and actual health care use and costs over the long run has not been documented.
To examine long-term health care utilization and costs associated with physical, sexual, or both physical and sexual childhood abuse.
Retrospective cohort.
Three thousand three hundred thirty-three women (mean age, 47 years) randomly selected from the membership files of a large integrated health care delivery system.
Automated annual health care utilization and costs were assembled over an average of 7.4 years for women with physical only, sexual only, or both physical and sexual childhood abuse (as reported in a telephone survey), and for women without these abuse histories (reference group).
Significantly higher annual health care use and costs were observed for women with a child abuse history compared to women without comparable abuse histories. The most pronounced use and costs were observed for women with a history of both physical and sexual child abuse. Women with both abuse types had higher annual mental health (relative risk [RR] = 2.07; 95% confidence interval [95%CI] = 1.67–2.57); emergency department (RR = 1.86; 95%CI = 1.47–2.35); hospital outpatient (RR = 1.35 = 95%CI = 1.10–1.65); pharmacy (incident rate ratio [IRR] = 1.57; 95%CI = 1.33–1.86); primary care (IRR = 1.41; 95%CI = 1.28–1.56); and specialty care use (IRR = 1.32; 95%CI = 1.13–1.54). Total adjusted annual health care costs were 36% higher for women with both abuse types, 22% higher for women with physical abuse only, and 16% higher for women with sexual abuse only.
Child abuse is associated with long-term elevated health care use and costs, particularly for women who suffer both physical and sexual abuse.
PMCID: PMC2359481  PMID: 18204885
health care utilization; costs; childhood abuse; physical abuse; sexual abuse
19.  Child abuse inventory at emergency rooms: CHAIN-ER rationale and design 
BMC Pediatrics  2011;11:91.
Child abuse and neglect is an important international health problem with unacceptable levels of morbidity and mortality. Although maltreatment as a cause of injury is estimated to be only 1% or less of the injured children attending the emergency room, the consequences of both missed child abuse cases and wrong suspicions are substantial. Therefore, the accuracy of ongoing detection at emergency rooms by health care professionals is highly important. Internationally, several diagnostic instruments or strategies for child abuse detection are used at emergency rooms, but their diagnostic value is still unknown. The aim of the study 'Child Abuse Inventory at Emergency Rooms' (CHAIN-ER) is to assess if active structured inquiry by emergency room staff can accurately detect physical maltreatment in children presenting at emergency rooms with physical injury.
CHAIN-ER is a multi-centre, cross-sectional study with 6 months diagnostic follow-up. Five thousand children aged 0-7 presenting with injury at an emergency room will be included. The index test - the SPUTOVAMO-R questionnaire- is to be tested for its diagnostic value against the decision of an expert panel. All SPUTOVAMO-R positives and a 15% random sample of the SPUTOVAMO-R negatives will undergo the same systematic diagnostic work up, which consists of an adequate history being taken by a pediatrician, inquiry with other health care providers by structured questionnaires in order to obtain child abuse predictors, and by additional follow-up information. Eventually, an expert panel (reference test) determines the true presence or absence of child abuse.
CHAIN-ER will determine both positive and negative predictive value of a child abuse detection instrument used in the emergency room. We mention a benefit of the use of an expert panel and of the use of complete data. Conducting a diagnostic accuracy study on a child abuse detection instrument is also accompanied by scientific hurdles, such as the lack of an accepted reference standard and potential (non-) response. Notwithstanding these scientific challenges, CHAIN-ER will provide accurate data on the predictive value of SPUTOVAMO-R.
PMCID: PMC3206425  PMID: 22008625
20.  Detection of non-accidental injuries presenting at emergency departments 
Emergency Medicine Journal : EMJ  2004;21(5):562-564.
Objectives: To investigate whether cases of possible non-accidental injury as identified using five risk indicators give rise to any subjective concerns of child abuse.
Methods: Questionnaires were completed by the triage nurse and attending doctor for every child attending the general hospitals of the North Western Health Board, with an injury, during a six month period. The questionnaires included an assessment of subjective concerns about the injury occurrence and five risk indicators of child abuse.
Results: Children presenting with an injury who had two or more positive indicators failed to raise subjective concerns in the attending emergency department staff.
Conclusions: The introduction of a policy of identifying positive indicators from the five risk indicators of child abuse needs additional computer support within emergency departments.
PMCID: PMC1726463  PMID: 15333530
21.  The association between abuse in childhood and STD/HIV risk behaviours in female genitourinary (GU) clinic attendees 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2000;76(6):457-461.
Objectives: To compare and contrast women with a history of child abuse with those who have no history of child abuse on STI/HIV risk behaviours and safer sex beliefs in an inner city UK sample.
Design: Cross sectional sample survey.
Methods: Routine female clinic attendees were invited to complete an anonymous self report questionnaire which included background information, sexual and drug risk behaviour, self reported sexually transmitted infections (STIs), psychological distress (Hospital and Anxiety Depression Scale; HADS), Sexual Risk Cognitions Questionnaire (SRCQ), and history of child sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.
Results: 137 (45%) of 303 women reported a history of child abuse; all three forms of child abuse—sexual (26%), physical (20%), and emotional (27%) abuse—overlapped. The majority of women reported one sexual partner in the past month, and the majority did not use condoms. Women reporting a history of child abuse were more likely to have had previous STIs (p=0.007) and to have had more than one STI (p=0.04) compared with women who had not experienced child abuse. Injecting drug use and commercial sex work were of low prevalence across the whole sample and no group differences were found. Women reporting a history of child abuse had higher HADS anxiety (p=0.03) compared with women with no history of child abuse. Confidence in using condoms with a sexual partner was not related to child abuse. Women with a history of child abuse reported significantly higher frequency of thoughts reflecting anticipated negative reactions from partners to suggesting condom use (p=0.02) and judging a partner's risk by their appearance (p=0.05) compared with women with no history of child abuse.
Conclusions: Comparable rates of child sexual abuse with US studies were found in this UK inner city population of women attending sexual health services. Women who had experienced child abuse were more likely to report ever having had an STI and having had more than one STI. Complex psychological and social factors contribute to difficulties for women in negotiating safer sex including emotional distress, abuse histories, and anticipating a negative reaction from partners. Multifaceted prevention models are needed.
Key Words: psychology; child abuse; risk behaviour; sexually transmitted infections
PMCID: PMC1744241  PMID: 11221129
22.  Longitudinal histories as predictors of future diagnoses of domestic abuse: modelling study 
Objective To determine whether longitudinal data in patients’ historical records, commonly available in electronic health record systems, can be used to predict a patient’s future risk of receiving a diagnosis of domestic abuse.
Design Bayesian models, known as intelligent histories, used to predict a patient’s risk of receiving a future diagnosis of abuse, based on the patient’s diagnostic history. Retrospective evaluation of the model’s predictions using an independent testing set.
Setting A state-wide claims database covering six years of inpatient admissions to hospital, admissions for observation, and encounters in emergency departments.
Population All patients aged over 18 who had at least four years between their earliest and latest visits recorded in the database (561 216 patients).
Main outcome measures Timeliness of detection, sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive values, and area under the ROC curve.
Results 1.04% (5829) of the patients met the narrow case definition for abuse, while 3.44% (19 303) met the broader case definition for abuse. The model achieved sensitive, specific (area under the ROC curve of 0.88), and early (10-30 months in advance, on average) prediction of patients’ future risk of receiving a diagnosis of abuse. Analysis of model parameters showed important differences between sexes in the risks associated with certain diagnoses.
Conclusions Commonly available longitudinal diagnostic data can be useful for predicting a patient’s future risk of receiving a diagnosis of abuse. This modelling approach could serve as the basis for an early warning system to help doctors identify high risk patients for further screening.
PMCID: PMC2755036  PMID: 19789406
23.  How do public child healthcare professionals and primary school teachers identify and handle child abuse cases? A qualitative study 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:807.
Public child healthcare doctors and nurses, and primary school teachers play a pivotal role in the detection and reporting of child abuse, because they encounter almost all children in the population during their daily work. However, they report relatively few cases of suspected child abuse to child protective agencies. The aim of this qualitative study was to investigate Dutch frontline workers’ child abuse detection and reporting behaviors.
Focus group interviews were held among 16 primary school teachers and 17 public health nurses and physicians. The interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, and thematically analyzed according to factors of the Integrated Change model, such as knowledge, attitude, self-efficacy, skills, social influences and barriers influencing detection and reporting of child abuse.
Findings showed that although both groups of professionals are aware of child abuse signs and risks, they are also lacking specific knowledge. The most salient differences between the two professional groups are related to attitude and (communication) skills.
The results suggest that frontline workers are in need of supportive tools in the child abuse detection and reporting process. On the basis of our findings, directions for improvement of child abuse detection and reporting are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3847190  PMID: 24007516
Child abuse; (Risk) detection; Reporting; Behavioral determinants; Teachers; Public child health professionals
24.  Child abuse and osteogenesis imperfecta: how can they be still misdiagnosed? A case report 
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a rare hereditary disease caused by mutations in genes coding for type I collagen, resulting in bone fragility. In literature are described forms lethal in perinatal period, forms which are moderate and slight forms where the only sign of disease is osteopenia. Child abuse is an important social and medical problem. Fractures are the second most common presentation after skin lesions and may present specific patterns.
The differential diagnosis between slight-moderate forms of OI and child abuse could be very challenging especially when other signs typical of abuse are absent, since both could present with multiple fractures without reasonable explanations. We report a 20 months-old female with a history of 4 fractures occurred between the age of three and eighteen months, brought to authorities’ attention as a suspected child abuse.
However when she came to our department physical examination, biochemical tests, total body X-ray and a molecular analysis of DNA led the diagnosis of OI.
Thus, a treatment with bisphosphonate and a physical rehabilitation process, according to Vojta method, were started with improvement in bony mineralization, gross motor skills and absence of new fracture.
In conclusion our case demonstrates how in any child presenting fractures efforts should be made to consider, besides child abuse, all the other hypothesis even the rarest as OI.
PMCID: PMC3535999  PMID: 23289038
osteogenesis imperfecta; child abuse; physical rehabilitation; neridronate
25.  Improving Child Protection in the Emergency Department: A Systematic Review of Professional Interventions for Health Care Providers 
This systematic review evaluated the effectiveness of professional and organizational interventions aimed at improving medical processes, such as documentation or clinical assessments by health care providers, in the care of pediatric emergency department (ED) patients where abuse was suspected.
A search of electronic databases, references, key journals/conference proceedings was conducted and primary authors contacted. Studies whose purpose was to evaluate a strategy aimed at improving ED clinical care of suspected abuse were included. Study methodological quality was assessed by two independent reviewers. One reviewer extracted the data and a second checked for completeness and accuracy.
Six studies met the inclusion criteria: one randomized (RCT) and one quasi-randomized trial (qRCT), and four observational studies. Study quality ranged from modest (observational studies) to good (trials). Variation in study interventions and outcomes limited between study comparisons. One qRCT supported self-instructional education kits as a means to improve physician knowledge for both physical abuse (mean pre-test score: 13.12, SD 2.36; mean post-test score: 18.16, SD 1.64) and sexual abuse (mean pre-test score: 10.81, SD 3.20; mean post-test score: 18.45, SD 1.79). Modest quality observational studies evaluated reminder systems for physician documentation with similar results across studies. Compared to standard practice, chart checklists paired with an educational program increased physician consideration of non-accidental burns in burn cases (59% increase), documentation of time of injury (36% increase), as well as documentation of consistency (53% increase) and compatibility (55% increase) of reported histories. Decisional flowcharts for suspected physical abuse also increased documentation of non-accidental physical injury (69.5% increase; p<0.0001) and had a similar significant impact as checklists on increasing documentation of history consistency and compatibility (69.5% and 70.0% increases, respectively; p<0.0001) when compared to standard practice. No improvements were noted in these studies for documentation of consultations or current status with child protective services. The introduction of a specialized team and crisis center to standardize practice had little effect on physician documentation, but did increase documentation of child protective services involvement (22.7% increase; p<0.005) and discharge status (23.7% increase; p<0.02). Referral to social services increased in one study following the introduction of a chart checklist (8.6% increase; p=0.018). A recently conducted multi-site RCT did not support observational findings, reporting no significant effect of educational sessions and/or a chart checklist on ED practices.
The small number of studies identified in this review highlights the need for future studies that address care of a vulnerable clinical population. While moderate quality observational studies suggested education and reminder systems increased clinical knowledge and documentation, these findings were not supported by a single randomized trial. The limited theoretical base for conceptualizing change in health care providers and the influence of the ED environment on clinical practice are limitations to this current evidence base.
PMCID: PMC3023813  PMID: 20370740 CAMSID: cams1630

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