• child abuse;
  • dentists;
  • knowledge;
  • Jordan


Background:  Signs of physical abuse often present in the oro-facial region and dentists are in a strategic position to recognise and report suspected cases. The aim of this study was to assess the knowledge, educational experiences and attitudes of Jordanian dentists towards child abuse and to assess their educational needs.

Methods:  A cross-sectional survey of a random sample of Jordanian dentists (n = 400) was conducted using an anonymous, self-administered structured questionnaire.

Results:  The response rate was 64%. Thirty-four per cent (n = 88) of the respondents reported having formal training in recognising and reporting child abuse, and 42% (n = 106) had post-qualification/continuing education training on the topic. Half of the dentists (127/256) suspected a case of child abuse in the past 5 years, but only 12% (31/256) reported their suspicions. The main reasons for not reporting suspicions of abuse were fear from anger of parents (43%), uncertainty about diagnosis (41%) and uncertainty about referral procedures (41%). Those dentists who had formal training in dental school (P = 0.0001) and post-qualification courses in child abuse (P = 0.006) were significantly more likely to report suspicions.

Conclusions:  A significant gap existed between recognising signs of physical child abuse and responding effectively. Improvements in child abuse education and continuing education courses are advised to provide dentists in Jordan with adequate knowledge of indicators of physical child abuse and to inform them on the protocol to follow when suspicions arise.