The knowledge and awareness of suspected child abuse among the dental team in the United Kingdom

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Saudi Digital Library
Background: The protection of children from abuse is a major public concern. Dental teams play a key role in recognising and addressing situations of child abuse. Therefore, it is essential that the members of the dental team have the appropriate levels of knowledge and awareness of child abuse warning signs and processes around safeguarding children. Aim: The purpose of this study was to review the literature on the knowledge and awareness of suspected child abuse amongst dental team members across the United Kingdom. Method: A narrative review of qualitative and quantitative studies published between 2003 and 2023 focusing on the knowledge and awareness of dental team members on child abuse was undertaken. A search strategy was developed and then conducted in two electronic databases (PubMed and Embase). The identified 41 studies were de-duplicated and screened by title and abstract. Relevant papers were then read in full. Nine studies that matched the eligibility criteria were included in the final review. Subsequently, the studies have been critically appraised and their findings summarised in a narrative review. Results: The review identified four studies conducted in England, two in Scotland, one in Wales, one in Northern Ireland, and one in the UK as a whole without specifying countries. The members of the dental team that participated in the included research were dentists, specialist dentists (e.g., paediatric dentists), dental therapists, and dental nurses. The majority of studies focused on dentists. Dental Care Professionals were rarely included in the research. The findings revealed variations in knowledge and awareness among the dental team, emphasising the importance of appropriate training allowing to recognise the signs of suspected abuse. In addition, the issue of barriers to reporting suspected cases was risen and a number of studies indicated the importance of processes regarding reporting and further handling the suspected child abuse chases. The review identified areas for further research, including the development of enhanced training programmes, the assessment of communication strategies, and the exploration of regional variations in child abuse awareness and reporting. Conclusion: The dental team's awareness and knowledge of child abuse are essential for safeguarding children from abuse. However, existing studies on this topic are limited. Further research is needed to develop comprehensive training and reporting processes for child abuse among dental teams. This review also provided recommendations to enhance communication, education, and overall efforts to safeguard children.
United Kingdom OR UK OR England OR Wales OR Scotland OR Northern Ireland OR Britain, Dentist* OR "dental student*" OR "dental assistant*" OR orthodontist* OR "pediatric dentist*" OR "paediatric dentist*" OR "dental therapist*" OR "dental nurse*"), ("Child abuse" OR "Child neglect" OR "Child maltreatment" OR "Safeguarding child*, Knowledge OR Awareness OR Detection OR Recognition