Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


School of Nursing and Health Professions




Population Health Leadership

First Advisor

Francine Serafin-Dickson

Second Advisor

Nancy Selix


Abusive head trauma (AHT) is a serious form of child maltreatment that is the primary cause of fatal head injuries in children younger than 24 months and is the cause for over 50% of severe or fatal traumatic brain injury incidences. These injuries can be caused by impact, shaking, or the combination of shaking and impact. These multi-factorial injuries can cause intracranial and spinal damage, retinal hemorrhages, and fractures of ribs and other bones. The age and severity of injuries will be used to assess the diagnosis of AHT. When AHT occurs, it is often tied to the behavior from a parent or caregiver as a reaction to a crying infant. Conceptual models and nursing theories have helped nurses use years of accumulated nursing knowledge to develop and put evidence into practice. The stress theory of Lazarus and Folkman highlights the associations among individual characteristics, environment, a stressful event, and coping (Lazarus, 2000). Identification of these triggers is important to AHT prevention because if these behaviors precipitate abuse then interventions can be utilized (Lazarus, 2000). The reaction to the behaviors that causes AHT is avoidable and an educational prevention program can help reduce the incidence and cost with AHT. The purpose of this review is to assess previous preventive educational programs that focus on caregivers and healthcare professionals in reducing the incidence of AHT in children 24 months or younger and possible barriers to healthcare professionals and caregivers.

Keywords: shaken baby syndrome, prevention and control, abusive head trauma, nurses, caregivers