Background Child maltreatment (physical or psychological abuse or neglect of young people, under 18 years of age) is a sensitive and complex issue both in terms of clinical practice and research. It is a matter of concern for both child protective services and health services and in all services dealing with children, and families with children.
Objective of our systematic review was to synthesise the best available evidence regarding the effectiveness of methods in identifying child maltreatment. The National Clinical Guideline (www.hotus.fi) was updated in 2015, based on the systematic review.
Results Risk factors concerning the child, parents ad the family situation are presented. Methods for the examination, identification, and evaluation of rib fractures, abdominal injuries, bruises, and burns were found. Screening tools have been developed especially for emergency care and risk assessment. Evidence of the need to develop multiprofessional practice services (including policy and organisational development) was found. Educating staff concerning child maltreatment issues was found to be effective. Guidelines based on this evidence are presented.
Conclusions Methods for identification are often insufficient. However, several useful methods and tools were found. Professionals need continuous training, clinical supervision, attitude change at the individual level, and coherent tools to identify risks and cases of maltreatment and family violence in general. From the effectiveness point of view, research has been made to some degree so far.
- Child maltreatment within the family