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Assessment of the knowledge, awareness, and attitudes of family physicians in Adana regarding child abuse and neglect



The aim of this study was to determine the knowledge levels, awareness, and attitudes of physicians working in family medicine units in Adana city center, Turkey, on child abuse and neglect (CAN) and to evaluate the quality of education given to family physicians on CAN.

Subjects and methods

This was a cross-sectional study of family physicians providing health services in the urban districts of Adana. A personal information form was used to query the sociodemographic characteristics of the physicians, their educational status, occupational experience, status in encountering cases of CAN, and approach to CAN. The Scale for the Identification of Symptoms and Risks of Child Abuse and Neglect (SISRCAN) was used to assess the physicians’ level of knowledge about CAN.


A total of 375 family physicians participated in the study. Of these, 39.2% (n = 147) stated that they had encountered a case of CAN. Of the physicians who had encountered CAN, 48.2% considered themselves partially adequate, 25.1% fully competent, and 22.4% inadequate in intervention. The rate of diagnosing abuse was higher in those who had received education in this regard (p < 0.001). The mean total SISRCAN score of the family physicians who participated in the study was calculated as 261.50 ± 22.75 (3.90 ± 0.33). There was no significant relationship between the status of receiving education on CAN and the scores obtained from the scale.


It can be concluded that family physicians do not have sufficient knowledge and awareness about CAN. Additionally, educational activities in this regard are inadequate and need to be re-structured and increased.

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Fig. 1


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Author information

Correspondence to Yavuzalp Solak.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest and that no funding was received for the study.

Ethical approval

Cukurova University Faculty of Medicine, Non-Interventional Clinical Research Ethics Committee. Meeting Number: 51, Decision Number 17. Date: 04.03.2016.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants.

Ethical information

Cukurova University Faculty of Medicine Non-Interventional Clinical Research.

Ethics committee

Number of Meetings: 51, Decision Number: 17, Date: 04.03.2016.

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Key Practitioner Message

What is known?

• Child abuse and neglect (CAN) is a serious public health problem which has complex causes and devastating consequences.

• According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 40 million children between 1 and 14 years old are being subjected to child abuse and neglect.

• Difficulties in the diagnosis of CAN and inadequate reporting are worsening the situation.

What is new?

• The scores of family physicians from the Scale for the Identification of Symptoms and Risks of Child Abuse and Neglect (SISRCAN) used in this study did not differ according to their status of education on CAN.

• Family physicians who encountered CAN cases scored higher on SISRCAN than those who did not.

• Family physicians who were educated about CAN had a higher rate of encountering CAN cases, which indicates that, although receiving an education on CAN did not lead to a theoretical difference in their SISRCAN scores, the education increased the physicians’ awareness and provided practical benefits for the diagnosis.

• Family physicians had the lowest scores related to characteristics of children vulnerable to abuse and neglect and characteristics of families prone to abuse and neglect. This may act as a barrier in early detection and prevention of CAN cases.

What is significant for clinical practice?

• Family physicians, who act as a first access point for health care services, need a more comprehensive education on CAN, which should be enriched with practical applications.

• Family physicians, equipped with the ability to recognize the risk groups, may prevent CAN cases before they occur.

This article has been presented as an oral presentation at the Second International 20th National Congress of Public Health on 13–17 November 2018 in Antalya.

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Cite this article

Solak, Y., Yoldascan, B.E. & Okyay, R.A. Assessment of the knowledge, awareness, and attitudes of family physicians in Adana regarding child abuse and neglect. J Public Health (Berl.) (2020).

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  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Family physicians
  • Awareness
  • Education