Munchausen by Proxy: A Qualitative Investigation into Online Perceptions of Medical Child Abuse

Academic Article


  • In Munchausen by proxy (MBP) maltreatment, increasingly termed “medical child abuse” (MCA), a caregiver fabricates or induces illness in another. The perpetrator's goal for the behavior is to meet personal emotional needs by forcing unnecessary or misguided medical or psychological treatment. Generally, a mother is the perpetrator and her child is the victim. There is a serious lack of research into most aspects of MCA, and this study is the first to utilize the anonymity of an Internet forum to investigate victims' first-hand experiences of, and the public's opinions about, suspected and confirmed MCA. Three-hundred and fifty-six posts by 348 members were explored and coded using formal qualitative content analysis. By accessing an open-thought online forum, this paper acquired information regarding social perceptions about the nonperpetrating partners who are unaware of the maltreatment; the disturbing and counterintuitive phenomenon of MCA itself; and the resistance often faced by those who attempt to report it.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Anderson APA; Feldman MD; Bryce J
  • Start Page

  • 771
  • End Page

  • 775
  • Volume

  • 63
  • Issue

  • 3