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Why Healthcare Workers Don’t Ask About Childhood Abuse

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Author: Melinda Chiu | Category: Final Words... | Dental Hygiene (M.S.) | April 14, 2016

Your name, program, dissertation title.

Melinda M. Chiu, Master of Science in Dental Hygiene, Texas dental hygienists attitude about including a childhood abuse question within a standard health history.

Please tell me about yourself, why you chose UT Health Science Center, and your program.

I am originally from Virginia. I am a mother, veteran, and practicing dental hygienist. I chose UT Health Science Center because only so many universities offer a M.S. in dental hygiene in the country. The reason for choosing this particular program was the faculty reputation and the convenience of the online program.

Please provide a few sentences summarizing your dissertation. What was the experience like for you?

Basically we found that one in three (female and male) adults have experienced sexual abuse during childhood. Routine questions related to a history of childhood abuse is a rarity in collecting critical patient health information. If Texas dental hygienist considered the prevalence rate alone, a question on a health history form would seem necessary. The literature states that the survivors of childhood abuse welcome disclosure to their health profession as a way to open a dialogue and help their healing process.

The experience is a necessary process. It requires you to communicate. It makes you consider differences of opinions. It requires selflessness. It refines and concentrates your strengths. It makes you want to reevaluate your thoughts. You do a hundred revisions. Then you end up where you started. Frustration is often. Rewards few but priceless. The growth unmeasurable and the time well spent.

Why are you passionate about your research topic? How did you first become interested in it?

My brother, is a survivor. Watching a sibling struggle for years silently (I call it the silent death). When I found out he was violated as a child, I wanted to understand this problem and find a way to intervene. If all I am is another person talking about this who is not afraid, it is the move in the right direction. What is sad is that we have been trying to understand the prevalence of child abuse since the 80’s, introduced the National Data Collection On Child Abuse And Neglect (NDCAN) officially in 1990. The authors of national reports say there concern was the unknown survivors. The unknown are among the known in 2010 in a study of adult populations of childhood sexual abuse survivors.

What was your best memory during graduate school or what did you learn?

The people, and how being a student has provided me a sense of belonging in the community.

What’s next? 

More education, still considering to continue on to my doctorate degree.

Any advice for your fellow graduate students?

Do not ever be afraid to be audacious, and venture out of your comfort zone. We never benefited from anything without taking a risk.

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