Sexual Abuse Knowledge Base Among Residents in Family Practice, Obstetrics/Gynecology, and Pediatrics

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Study Objective: To investigate resident physician knowledge about sexual abuse prevalence and understanding about potential perpetrators. Design: Questionnaires were mailed to program directors in family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatric residency programs. Participants: The questionnaires were distributed to senior residents in their final months prior to graduation. Interventions: Residents were asked to fill out the questionnaire anonymously and return it to our institution in the prepaid envelope provided. Main Outcome Measures: Demographic characteristics and knowledge of sexual abuse prevalence and perpetrator characteristics were assessed. Chi-square contingency table analysis was used to compare responses of the three specialties. Results: The overwhelming majority (98.8%) of residents correctly identified a family member as the individual most likely to sexually abuse a child. Approximately half of the residents knew the correct prevalence of sexual abuse among females and among males. There was a weak understanding of the potential youthfulness of juvenile offenders. Conclusion: We believe that resident understanding of sexual abuse prevalence and about the youthfulness of juvenile offenders can be improved in all three specialties.