A Grounded Theory Study of Nurses Who Care for Patients Who are Victims of Sexual Violence

Monday, 22 July 2013

Dara M. Whalen, MS, RN
College of Nursing, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

Learning Objective 1: Examine the impact of sexual violence on the health and well being of those affected, including individuals, families, and communities.

Learning Objective 2: Discuss the process that nurses use to manage the care of patients who are victims of sexual violence.

Purpose: Sexual violence is a traumatic event that has physical, psychological, financial, and spiritual implications for the victims, their friends and family and the community. The effects of the traumatic event can be long term and have far-reaching negative consequences including poor health outcomes, depression, substance abuse disorders and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Estimates related to the incidence of sexual assault vary but according to the National Violence Against Women Survey, “one out of every six women and one out of every thirty three men in the United States will experience a rape or attempted rape” (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000, p. 13). Available data worldwide suggests that in some countries nearly one in four women experience sexual violence at some point in their lifetime and up to sixty-five percent of those affected do not report the event (WHO, 2003). Sexual violence is a global problem that occurs in all levels of society, every culture, and all countries around the world.

Attitudes and behaviors of nurses towards patients who are victims of sexual violence can mitigate or contribute to perceived re-victimization that is common in people who experience this type of traumatic event. The purpose of this qualitative study is to identify the process that nurses without specialized training use to care for patients who are victims of sexual violence. Critical influences that govern the nurses’ attitudes and behaviors will be explored.

Methods: A Grounded Theory method of inquiry is being used as the framework for this study. Audiotaped interviews using semi-structured, open-ended questions and focus groups are being used to collect the data. Participants are Emergency Room nurses without specialized training related to sexual violence. Focus groups are made up of trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners.   

Results: The study is in the data collection phase.

Conclusion: There are no conclusions at this time.