Web-Based Program for Victims of Sexual Assault: Will It Help?

Thursday, 15 July 2010: 11:10 AM

Karen Kalmakis, PhD, FNP-BC
School of Nursing, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Lori Banning, MS, RN
Nursing, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, MA

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to identify health care needs of sexual assault victims post assault.

Learning Objective 2: Attendees will be able to discuss women's responses to a proposed web-based site to assist them with recommended follow-up health care needs.

Purpose: The purpose of this research was explore the feasibility of 1) a web based nursing informational site for sexual assault victims, and 2) the future of web-based research in this area of patient care. Methods: A survey was used to gather data from women who had been victims of sexual assault. The survey was distributed to four area women's centers where women seek shelter, counseling, and support. The survey was comprised of 4 direct questions and a 5th question requesting women to check off areas they would like to see addressed on a web-based informational site intended to benefit them. Results: Fifty-five percent of women who had been victims of sexual assaulted had access to a computer. Most women answered yes or unsure to questions about getting information from the computer, and answering research questions on-line. Only 5 women indicated they would not be willing to answer research questions via the Internet and only 7 answered they would not feel comfortable getting information in this format. Women indicated they would want to see information about medications, sexually transmitted infections, and area health providers, as well as substance abuse services. Conclusion: The Internet shows promise as a vehicle to reach out to victims of sexual assault with health information and nurses are in a key position to institute such a program. The Internet also may prove to be a valuable tool for researchers attempting to learn more about the needs and concerns of women post assault, a vulnerable population that has been illusive in the past. Women who indicated they were unsure about using the internet for health information or answering research questions raise a challenge to nurse researchers. We must provide a high level of security in web-based research and clearly explain such measures to our prospective participants.