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Women’s Center Staff Perceptions of the Campus Climate on Sexual Violence

Strout, Tania PhD, RN, MS1; Amar, Angela Frederick PhD, RN, FAAN2; Astwood, Krystal BA3

doi: 10.1097/JFN.0000000000000034
Original Articles

Background: Sexual assault is a major public health problem disproportionately affecting women on college and university campuses. As sexual assault is often unreported, survivors may not have the access to resources and services that are helpful in healing. Campus-based women’s centers provide a comfortable place and resource to address women’s issues on campus. Individuals who work in these centers have open communication channels with students and a role in the administrative structure that may provide a unique understanding of survivors, the student environment, and the institutional context regarding sexual assault.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to understand the perceptions of campus-based women’s center staff on college and university campuses, specifically regarding campus-based responses to sexual assault.

Methods: Participants responded electronically to six open-ended survey questions. Data were analyzed using a qualitative content analysis approach to identify key themes present within the data.

Results: Key concepts identified included respect, trust, confidentiality, trained professionals, and comprehensive and consistent response.

Conclusions: The findings provide an early description of the perceptions of staff in campus-based women’s centers related to prevention, reporting, and response to sexual violence on campuses and can be used to inform campus policies and practices as well as forensic and college-based nursing practice.

Author Affiliations: 1Director of Research, Maine Medical Center, Department of Emergency Medicine, Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine, and Associate Professor and Adjunct Faculty, University of Southern Maine School of Nursing; 2Associate Professor, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University; and 3Graduate Student, Teacher’s College, Columbia University.

Disclosures: This research was funded in part by the Nurse Faculty Scholar Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Dr. Amar).

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Tania Strout, PhD, RN, MS, Maine Medical Center, Department of Emergency Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, 47 Bramhall Street, Portland, ME 04102. E-mail:

Received March 12, 2014; accepted for publication May 28, 2014.

© 2014 by the International Association of Forensic Nurses. All rights reserved.
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