Pediatric nurses' differentiations between acceptable and unacceptable parent discipline behaviors: A Q-study

Wing Ka Grace Ho, Deborah A. Gross

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Nurses are mandated to report suspected cases of child maltreatment. However, it is unclear how nurses decide what constitutes child abuse or evidence for reporting. It is crucial to examine how nurses define various forms of child maltreatment, including child abuse and its differentiation from physical discipline, to enhance our services to families with young children. Objective: The present study examined pediatric nurses' views on acceptable versus unacceptable discipline behaviors to better understand parent behaviors that nurses are likely to deem reportable to child protective services. Methods: Using Q methodology, a convenience sample of 48 pediatric nurses from one urban medical center sorted 71 statements related to the behavior or outcome of punishing a child via the Internet application FlashQ. The statements were sorted on a predefined continuum ranging from "Most Unacceptable" to "Most Acceptable." By-person factor analysis was used to uncover groups of nurses with similar sorts and to generate a unique sort that represented the viewpoint of nurses in that group. Results: Two distinct viewpoints were uncovered. Although there was consensus on what constitutes most acceptable and most unacceptable parent behaviors, nurses varied on their endorsement of using physical force as a form of discipline, suggesting a potential for discrepant tendencies to identify and report child abuse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-264
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pediatric Health Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Child abuse
  • Mandatory reporting
  • Parenting
  • Q-methodology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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