Letsel: Forensic expertise and child abuse: a survey among preventive child healthcare workers in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, J Public Health 2017

Authors: Tina Dorn, P. Leenen, R. Lindeboom, M. Ceelen, U. J. L. Reijnders.



In the Netherlands, preventive child healthcare workers (PCHWs) have an important role in identifying signs of abuse, because they reach virtually all children. A closer cooperation of PCHWs and forensic physicians could improve the detection of child abuse. The aim of the study was to evaluate the use of forensic expertise by PCHWs.

Subjects and methods

In November 2013, a survey was distributed among PCHWs employed by the Amsterdam Public Health Service (n = 221).


Forty-nine percent of PCHWs indicated suspicions of physical abuse during the last 6 months (response rate: 43 %). In all, 89 % rated the consultation of forensic physicians as useful. In a 1-year period, only three respondents sought advice from a forensic doctor.


Although PCHWs regularly have suspicions of physical child abuse and have a very positive attitude towards consulting a forensic physician, consultation rates are very low. More research is needed to understand barriers to consultation of forensic physicians.

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