Date of Award

8-2006

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Human Ecology

Major Professor

Susan Madison Smith

Committee Members

June Gorski, Gregory Petty, Paula Carney, Priscilla Blanton

Abstract

The Child Fatality Review Process: A Tennessee Profile examines the perceptions of Tennessee’s judicial district child fatality review team members concerning the team members’ participation in child fatality review, the preventability of specific causes of childhood fatalities, the effectiveness of the Tennessee child fatality review process, and current educational initiatives used to prevent childhood fatalities. The study was completed using the new instrument entitled “Tennessee Child Fatality Review Team Members: Role in the review process.”

The research study was designed to 1) develop a valid and reliable survey instrument to assess Tennessee judicial district child fatality review team members’ perceptions of the process used to review childhood fatalities in Tennessee and 2) establish an initial profile of information concerning Tennessee’s child fatality review team members’ perceptions of the review process and program effectiveness. The Community Capacity Theory was used as theoretical framework for the design of this research.

Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, MANOVA, ANOVA, cross tabulation analysis, Chi-square, Adjusted Residuals, and Tukey’s Honestly Significant Difference.

Two major conclusions were drawn from this research study:

1) Significant differences were found between a team member’s occupation and selection of preventability of vehicular, strangulation or suffocation, and firearm deaths. Physicians serving on the child fatality review team perceive vehicular deaths as preventable more often than team members from other occupations. First responders (fire, police, and EMS personnel) serving on the child fatality review team perceive vehicular deaths as less preventable more often than team members from other occupations. Court personnel serving on the child fatality review team perceive suffocation or strangulation deaths as preventable more often than team members from other occupations.

2) Significant differences were found between a team member’s occupation and perceptions of parental educational programs. First responders (police, fire, and EMS personnel) were most supportive of educational campaigns addressing the dangers of parental alcohol abuse, parental knowledge about community resources, and the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and over-the-counter drug use during pregnancy.

Further studies should be conducted to further investigate differences in perceptions when compared to different occupational categories that were found to exist in Tennessee’s child fatality review team members.

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