Aims Foundation Trainees occupy frontline positions in reviewing children. The aim of this study was to assess whether they were confident to recognise and respond to suspected cases of child maltreatment and their acquisition and progression of these competencies through the foundation training.
Methods A controlled study compared Foundation Trainee year 1 (FY1, n=32) and year 2 (FY2, n=33) with the null hypothesis that there were no significant differences in their confidences in recognising child maltreatment. A 5 point Likert questionnaire in a visual analogue scale with 7 domains was implemented. These domains were recognising history, suspicion from interaction of carers and child, recognising radiological features, suspicion of child sexual abuse (CSA), teaching on child maltreatment and guidance on what to do. Results were statistically analysed using non parametric algorithms with Stats Direct version 2.7.8 at 95% CI. Further, an open ended questionnaire looked at perceived dilemmas/challenges trainees might face in recognition of child maltreatment.
Results In all domains in the FY1 group the main response was the ambivalent response. In the FY2 group, notable exceptions included confidence in recognising history, suspicion from interaction of carers, recognising radiology and teaching on child maltreatment. In the Mann Whitney test, there were no statistically significant differences (p >0.05) in confidences between the groups in recognising history, suspecting features from parental or child interaction and teaching received. However, statistically significant differences (p< 0.05) were observed in confidences between the groups in recognising radiological features, suspicion of CSA and guidance on what to do. There were some perceived dilemmas including lack of experience/confidence, time pressures and uncertainty about the validity of their concerns.
Conclusions In conclusion, this study shows that a Foundation Trainee gains confidence in safeguarding matters with time which in turn is reflective of the training. However, there are uncertainties. Importantly, this study highlights gaps in training delivery in crucial aspects emphasising on relevant history taking and observational skills over Foundation years. These areas necessitate the need for tailored sessions throughout Foundation placement. To our knowledge, this is the first statistical study of its kind.