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Factors That Influence the Variability in Findings of Anogenital Injury in Adolescent/Adult Sexual Assault Victims: A Review of the Forensic Literature

Laitinen, Fred A. MS; Grundmann, Oliver PhD, MS; Ernst, E. J. DNP, MBA, MS, APRN, FNP-BC, CEN

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: September 2013 - Volume 34 - Issue 3 - p 286–294
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e31829a0f46
Review Articles

Sexual violence is a pervasive problem worldwide. Anogenital injuries are one type of injury that may be present because of sexual violence. A review of the forensic literature yielded 13 published studies from 6 countries between 1987 and 2011 that met the inclusion/exclusion criteria, illustrating that anogenital (anal and/or genital) trauma is observed in 16% to 77% of sexual assault victims. Establishing the reliability of the conclusions of these studies is difficult due to a lack of uniformity in methodology to include detection of injury, injury definition, victim age, time window for examination, injury from consensual sex, and training of examiners. Each one of these factors can change the rate of injury observed. The evaluated studies show a disparity due to a lack of uniformity in examination protocols, injury classification, and examiner qualifications. A current, state of the science, evidence-based standardized protocol should be constructed that promotes objective and accurate parameters including the use of colposcopy, staining techniques, digital photography, and adequate training for examiners of sexual assault victims who present with anogenital injury.

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the article.

From the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

Manuscript received October 4, 2012; accepted April 21, 2013.

The authors report no conflict of interest.

F.L. conceptualized the paper; F.L., O.G., and E.E. contributed equally to drafting and finalizing the manuscript.

Reprints: Fred A. Laitinen, MS, College of Pharmacy, University of Florida, PO Box 100485, Gainesville, FL 32610. E-mail:

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© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.