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Does Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Training Affect Attitudes of Emergency Department Nurses Toward Sexual Assault Survivors?

Nielson, Mary Hugo DNP, APRN, ANP-BC1; Strong, Linda EdD, RN2; Stewart, Julie G. DNP, MPH, APRN, FNP-BC2

doi: 10.1097/JFN.0000000000000081
Original Articles

ABSTRACT There are over 243,800 female sexual assaults in the United States annually. Of those who seek healthcare services after being sexually assaulted, 90% present to hospitals. Unfortunately, care and services for women who have been sexually assaulted are inconsistent. Increased burnout, frustration, and feelings of inadequacy can lead healthcare providers to exhibit personal biases or negative attitudes toward their patients. The Joint Commission, responsible for accreditation of healthcare organizations, has stated that nurses must provide competent care to all patients. Therefore, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training needs to be available for emergency department (ED) nurses who care for patients who have been sexually assaulted. A survey using the Attitude Toward Rape Victims Scale was sent to 1503 ED nurses throughout the United States, from the Emergency Nursing Association’s mailing list. The results of the survey showed that there was a significant difference in attitudes toward the patients between SANE-trained emergency nurses and those without training. This study also showed that 35.5% of hospitals represented by the respondents did not have SANE services available for adult patients who had been sexually assaulted, and furthermore, 85.5% of the respondents who cared for adult patients who had been sexually assaulted were not SANE trained. The negative attitudes held toward such patients as found in this study, coupled with a lack of training provides evidence that ED nurses may benefit from education related to appropriate treatment for patients who have been sexually assaulted. As evidence-based practice becomes the gold standard of care, ensuring that nurses are properly trained to care for all patients must be the goal.

Author Affiliations:1Western Connecticut State University; and 2Sacred Heart University.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Correspondence: Mary Hugo Nielson, DNP, APRN, ANP-BC, Western Connecticut State University, 181 White Street, Danbury, CT 06810. E-mail:

Received November 24, 2014; accepted for publication June 19, 2015.

© 2015 by the International Association of Forensic Nurses. All rights reserved.
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