Purpose Preventing sexual assault is a national priority within the United States considering there are approximately 3 21 500 survivors (aged 12 and older) of sexual assault per year. Previous work suggests that one promising measure for early intervention to mitigate the negative sequelae associated with sexual assault is routine screenings by healthcare providers for sexual assault history. Although the potential benefits of disclosing a sexual assault incident to a provider are well understood, much of the previous work in this area has been conducted with clinic-based samples of sexual assault survivors who encounter fewer barriers to accessing necessary healthcare. Less is known about whether sexual assault survivors from a population-based sample disclose sexual assault incidents to providers. In this study, we explore the prevalence of disclosure to healthcare providers and potential barriers to disclosure in a non-clinic sample.
Methods A large sample of participants, ages 18–25, is currently being recruited for a survey study via sponsored advertisements appearing on Instagram and Facebook. Eligible participants complete online measures about their demographics, healthcare utilisation, and sexual violence history. Participants are asked about their history of sexual violence victimisation since the age of 16 and whether they have talked to a healthcare provider about the incident. Those who have not talked to a provider are asked to report reasons for not talking to a provider.
Significance By highlighting barriers that prevent sexual assault survivors from talking about their victimisation experiences with a healthcare professional, this study can inform treatment and prevention efforts to attenuate the high healthcare costs associated with sexual assault.