Online Program

Medical care post-sexual assault for u.s. servicewomen: A retrospective cross-sectional study

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 1:00 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Michelle Mengeling, Ph.D., CADRE Research (151), Iowa City VA Health Care System, Iowa City, IA
Brenda M. Booth, PhD, Division of Health Services Research, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR
James Torner, Ph.D., College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Craig Syrop, M.D., Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, Iowa City, IA
Anne Sadler, Ph.D., CADRE Research (151), Iowa City VAHealth Care Center, University of Iowa Department of Psychiatry, Iowa City, IA
Two parallel studies investigating the antecedent risks and subsequent health consequences of sexual assault in servicewomen during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) were conducted. 205 of 1,339 servicewomen experienced at least one sexual assault while serving in-military (SAIM). Only 16% (n=33) reported receiving medical care for any SAIM, even though 26% reported being physically injured and 18% reported vaginal injuries. The primary reason for not seeking post-assault care was that women did not think care was needed (72%). When care was received, it was most likely obtained at a military base (67%) or civilian care provider (39%), not mutually exclusive. Few women were examined with a forensic rape-kit (n=17), offered a pregnancy test (n=22), a ‘morning after pill' (n=14), assessed for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (n=21), offered medication to prevent HIV (n=6). Only those examined with a rape-kit were offered medication to prevent HIV (6/17). Among those who experienced a completed SAIM, only 4% (n=5) received care that addressed all of the following: pregnancy, STIs, and HIV. Stigma associated with sexual assault may present a barrier to seeking needed medical care, which in turn may significantly delay receiving any physical and/or mental health care following a sexual assault. Best practices for post-sexual assault medical care include treatment of injuries and prevention of unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and human immunodeficiency virus. Ways to facilitate immediate access to post-sexual medical care are warranted and ensuring those who experience sexual assault have access to best practices is essential.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify best practices for post-sexual assault medical care. Assess current post-sexual assault medical practices for current era servicewomen. Assess facilitators and barriers to receiving post-assault medical care in a military population.

Keyword(s): Sexual Assault, Access to Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a co-investigator on multiple grants focusing on the health and safety of women in the military. Among my scientific interests have been access to care and reporting of sexual assault.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.