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With Care and Compassion: Adolescent Sexual Assault Victims’ Experiences in Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Programs

Campbell, Rebecca PhD; Greeson, Megan R. MA; Fehler-Cabral, Giannina PhD

doi: 10.1097/JFN.0b013e31828badfa
Original Articles

ABSTRACT In this study, we conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with 20 adolescent sexual assault patients aged 14–17 years who sought postassault medical forensic examinations at one of two Midwestern Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner programs. Our goals were to examine how adolescent victims characterized the quality of the emotional/interpersonal care they received and to identify specific aspects of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner nursing practice that were helpful and healing. Overall, the patients had very positive experiences with both programs. The nurses were sensitive to their patients’ physical and emotional needs throughout the examination. The adolescents also noted that the nurses were compassionate, caring, and personable. Finally, the survivors deeply appreciated that the nurses believed and validated their accounts of the assault. These findings suggest that compassionate care must be developmentally informed, such that basic patient-centered practices (e.g., belief and validation) are age sensitive and age appropriate.

Author Affiliation: Michigan State University.

This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Justice awarded to the first author (2007-WG-BX-0012). The opinions or points of view expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Rebecca Campbell, PhD, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, 127 C Psychology Building, East Lansing, MI 48824–1116. E-mail:

© 2013 by the International Association of Forensic Nurses. All rights reserved.
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