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The perception of role conflict in sexual assault nursing and its effects on care delivery

Downing, Nancy R. PhD RN SANE‐A1; Mackin, Melissa Lehan PhD RN2

Journal of Forensic Nursing: June 2012 - Volume 8 - Issue 2 - p 53–60
doi: 10.1111/j.1939-3938.2012.01135.x
Original Articles

The role of the sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) combines two once‐distinct roles —nursing and forensic science. Therefore, there is a potential for role conflict that may impact SANEs as well as the care they deliver. In this qualitative study, 14 SANEs were interviewed regarding their roles. Most participants did not endorse role conflict; however, most also provided examples of conflict between their roles as nurses and their roles as evidence collectors. Participants differed in their opinions of whether they were advocates or not in this capacity. SANEs talked about breaking the rules and caring about some patients even when they believed they were not supposed to. Several SANEs also talked about relying on the victim advocate to take the caring role—in effect, using advocates as proxy for the caring role SANEs would take in other nursing settings. The implications of these findings are discussed.

1 Postdoctoral Fellow, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

2 Faculty Associate, University of Iowa College of Nursing, Iowa City, Iowa

Correspondence Nancy R. Downing, PhD, RN, SANE‐A, University of Iowa College of Nursing, 50 Newton Road, Iowa City, IA 52242. Tel: 319–321–7798; E‐mail: nancy‐

Received: June 5, 2010; accepted: October 14, 2010

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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