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The attitudes of medical professionals toward children and children at risk of separation from parents in Eastern Europe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-33
Number of pages8
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Early online date7 Feb 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 6 Feb 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 7 Feb 2018
DatePublished (current) - 1 Apr 2018


This article reports the findings of a multi-country study of medical professionals' perceptions and evaluations of children. The primary aim of the study was to establish the perceptions medical professionals working in three Eastern European countries (Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova) hold toward children identified as “typical”, “at-risk” and “with disability”. A second aim was to explore the existence of country-level differences in medical professionals' perceptions of children. The third aim was to examine the pattern of associations between attitudes toward children and a change in use of institutional care to family and community-based alternatives. Over 800 respondents provided survey responses using paper-based and online returns. Findings indicated that positive affect toward children was associated with the favourability of attributes generated about “typical” children. In contrast, positive affect toward children was associated with less favourability toward at-risk children. Attribute favourability ratings generated for at-risk children were positively associated with attributes generated for children with disability. Differences were identified between respondents working across the three countries. No association was identified between attitudes toward children and endorsement of a statement supportive of de-institutionalisation as part of child protection reforms. These findings illuminate how children are conceptualised and understood by a group of medical professionals who hold considerable sway over decisions and recommendations about their relative risk and vulnerability.

    Research areas

  • Affect, Attitudes, Children, Disability, Eastern Europe, Institutional care, Medical professionals

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