Collaborative Study Strives to Improve Pediatric Care

Collaborative Study Strives to Improve Pediatric Care

Implementing both social work and nursing perspectives, Fairfield Egan professors published a study aimed at teaching healthcare workers how to communicate with caregivers about suspected child abuse.

Three faculty members of the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies recently developed a framework and program to teach nurses across the country the necessary skills to communicate with caregivers about suspected child abuse.

Associate professor of nursing and director of the undergraduate nursing program Linda Roney, EdD, RN-BC, CPEN, CNE, assistant professor of social work Tanika Eaves, PhD, LCSW, IMH-E, and visiting instructor of social work Joshua A. Neitlich, LCSW, also enlisted Egan students Katherine Knapik ’21, BSN, RN, and Kayla Lapointe ’22 to assist in the interdisciplinary study. 

According to their published study, “An Interprofessional Approach to Family-Centered Child Protective Services Referral: A Case Report,” as the most patient-facing workers, nurses need to be able to quickly navigate caring for a child while establishing a thera­peutic relationship with caregivers suspected of abuse.

The study, initiated by Dr. Roney, a clinical care nurse, utilized a case study involving a 9-week-old infant being treated at a level II trauma center. When treating the child, Dr. Roney noted barriers to communication and observed that trauma care nurses may not have the necessary skills to communicate with caregivers about suspected child abuse. Dr. Roney tapped Dr. Eaves and Professor Neitlich to collaborate on the development of a framework for communications strategies for trauma nurses.

Using Peplau’s Theory of Interpersonal Relations, Dr. Roney, Dr. Eaves, and Professor Neitlich developed a strategy using the mnemonic A-TEAM: Aware, Transparent, Empathetic, A Nonjudgmental Approach, and Managed by an Interprofessional Team. The framework will be used by nurses and interprofessional healthcare teams to engage in therapeutic communication with patients' families during child protective services evaluations.

Recent Egan School graduate Knapik became involved in the study after meeting Dr. Roney while studying abroad in Galway. Knapik supported the group by researching the clinical significance and the evidence-based practices for child protective services referrals, and identified gaps where the A-TEAM framework could help. “Using an established nursing theory as a framework to guide our writing, we illustrated the value of the A-TEAM model through a real-life clinical case study,” she said.

Lapointe, a social work student, was approached by social work faculty for the opportunity to participate in this project during the spring of her junior year. During her time participating in this study, she worked with the faculty and Knapnik on a training video, launched nationally this month, to demonstrate how to provide effective care using the concepts illustrated in their published article.

“I was excited to get the chance to work on an interdisciplinary project that implemented both social work and nursing perspectives,” said Lapointe. “I am excited to see how this research will be implemented in a real-world environment and the ways it can influence the provider-patient relationship.” 

In addition to the published study, Roney has led the development of the "Pediatric Trauma Across the Care Continuum" course with the Society of Trauma Nurses and the Pediatric Trauma Society, which launched this month at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Learn more about Fairfield Egan by visiting

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