Nationwide Management of Trauma in Child Abuse: Exploring the Racial, Ethnic, and Socioeconomic Disparities

Bellal Joseph, Joseph V. Sakran, Omar Obaid, Hamidreza Hosseinpour, Michael Ditillo, Tanya Anand, Tanya L. Zakrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Child abuse is a major cause of childhood injury, morbidity, and death. There is a paucity of data on the practice of abuse interventions among this vulnerable population. The aim of our study was to identify the factors associated with interventions for child abuse on a national scale. Methods: Retrospective analysis of 2017 to 2018 American College of Surgeons (ACS) Pediatric Trauma Quality Improvement Program (TQIP). All children presenting with suspected/confirmed child abuse and an abuse report filed were included. Patients with missing information regarding abuse interventions were excluded. Outcomes were abuse investigations initiated among those with abuse reports, and change of caregiver at discharge among survivors with an investigation initiated. Multivariable regression analyses were performed. Results: A total of 7774 child abuse victims with an abuse report were identified. The mean age was 5±5 years, 4221 (54%) patients were White, 2297 (30%) Black, 1543 (20%) Hispanic, and 5298 (68%) had government insurance. The most common mechanism was blunt (63%), followed by burns (10%) and penetrating (10%). The median Injury Severity Score was 5 (1-12). The most common form of abuse was physical (92%), followed by neglect (6%), sexual (3%), and psychological (0.1%). The most common perpetrator of abuse was a care provider/teacher (49.5%), followed by a member of the immediate family (30.5%), or a member of the extended/step/foster family (20.0%). Overall, 6377 (82%) abuse investigations were initiated for those with abuse reports. Of these, 1967 (33%) resulted in a change of caregiver. Black children were more likely to have abuse investigated, and Black and Hispanic children were more likely to experience change of caregiver after investigations, while privately insured children were less likely to experience both. Conclusions: Significant racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities exist in the nationwide management of child abuse. Further studies are strongly warranted to understand contributing factors and possible strategies to address them. Level of Evidence: Level III - therapeutic/care management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-510
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022


  • abuse interventions
  • abuse investigation
  • change of caregiver
  • child abuse
  • physical abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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