Challenges and Progress in Child Welfare

Dr. Kristine Campbell sheds light on this societal concern in the latest Intermountain Podcast

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Child abuse and neglect is an important societal issue that is a challenge to identify, discuss, prevent, resolve, and quantify in terms of incidence. Despite underreporting, yearly referrals to child protective services involve 6.6 million children, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

A career dedicated to the issue of child welfare and addressing abuse and neglect has earned Kristine Campbell, MD, MSc the Utah Business Healthcare Heroes Physician award for 2017. Dr. Campbell is a Pediatrician at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital and Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Child Protection and Family Health of the University of Utah. Recently, she sat down with Anne Pendo, MD, Internist at the Intermountain Avenues Specialty Clinic to share her experience with and outlook for child welfare in medicine and social services. 

In hospital, clinic, research, and classroom settings, Dr. Campbell focuses on ways to identify and address stressors before they evolve into child maltreatment as well as to better understand the experiences children and families have in order to improve interventions and outcomes. According to Dr. Campbell, “I’m very interested in learning how social determinants of health become prominent and end up hurting children…and how healthcare education and community engagement can influence length and quality of life.”

Dr. Campbell engages in research to improve child welfare and is also working to support other medical professionals by creating guidelines to detect and manage potential child abuse.

“Developing a care process model to improve our ability to identify, recognize, and respond to traumatic events in a child’s life…is important to preventing lifelong traumatic stress,” says Dr. Campbell. “I’m working to give primary care providers a straightforward way of identifying stress, knowing how to respond and knowing what we can manage.”

Dr. Campbell received her medical degree from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, completed her pediatric residency at the University of Washington, spent five years working for the Indian Health Service as a general pediatrician in Chinle, Arizona—and then completed a fellowship in general academic pediatrics and a master’s degree in clinical research at the University of Pittsburgh. “When I began my career I was drawn to situations by colleagues were not—Child Abuse Pediatrics was not a subspecialty at the time,” she says. Dr. Campbell, in her current role as a professor, is now helping to educate the next generation of pediatricians. 

“I’m incredibly optimistic about the people I see entering our field. Nurse Practitioner, Physician Assistant students and others seeking to improve the quality of life for children and families—they want to do the right thing.”

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