Dental professionals' experience with and handling of suspicion of child maltreatment in a small-scale society: the Faroe Islands

Unn Jakobsen, Anna Sofia Fjallheim, Hannes Gislason, Eina Gudmundsen, Sven Poulsen, Dorte Haubek

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The aims of the present study were to describe how frequently dental professionals in a small-scale society like the Faroese Islands, experience suspicion on child maltreatment, and how they handle their suspicion. Furthermore, we wanted to investigate the hypothesis that the special interpersonal characteristics of small-scale societies like the Faroese, influence how dental professionals handle suspicion of child maltreatment compared to how their colleagues in larger societies handled such suspicion. The design of our study was cross-sectional using a non-probability purposive sampling method. A translated and slightly modified version of the Danish questionnaire regarding suspicion on child maltreatment was sent to all 71 dental professionals (44 dentists and 27 dental hygienists) in the Faroe Islands. 51 (72%) returned a valid questionnaire. Of these, 61% experienced suspicion of child maltreatment at some point in their career, 33% within the last 6 months, and 10% percent were certain of child maltreatment during the last six months. Of those respondents who had experienced suspicion at some point of their career, 39% had reported their suspicion. The main reasons for withholding a suspicion were: uncertainty as to whether the suspicion was reliable, fear of the consequences for the child, and lack of procedural knowledge. Faroese dental professionals suspected child maltreatment much more frequently (61%) than their Danish (38%), Scottish (29%), and Croatian colleagues (26%) did. Child maltreatment raises concern among the Faroese dental professionals more frequently than among their colleagues in larger societies. They also seem to report their concern more frequently than their Scottish colleagues do. Thus, the present study indicates that the social structure in small-scale societies may affect dental professionals' suspicions, and handling of child maltreatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-150
Number of pages6
JournalClinical and Experimental Dental Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Child maltreatment
  • Child protection
  • Dental professionals
  • Small-scale society


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