Master's Project Title:

“Review and recommendations for improving follow – up of victims of sexual assault”

MCH Student:

Kim Keffeler

Date of Defense:

June 20, 2014


Intro: In the US, nearly  1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men will experience sexual assault in their  lifetime. Victims of sexual assault experience a variety of physical and mental health  consequences, including sexually transmitted infections and PTSD. Ramsey County Sexual  Offense Services (SOS) advocates follow – up with victims of sexual assault and connect them to  services to help them recover. Research and best practices demonstrate that these interventions  can lead to improved health outcomes for victims of sexual assault. There are extensive  recommendations from the CDC, AMA, and ACOG on the acute care needs of victims of sexual  assault, and these organizations recommend that victims receive follow – up care; however, there  is little or no agreement on what follow – up care should include.

Methods: The SOS director and I designed this technical report project to improve the SOS  follow – up protocol in order to increase follow – up rates and improve the health outcomes of SOS  clients. A literature review was conducted to determine best practices for sexual assault follow – up and to ground the project in research. Key informant interviews were conducted to determine novel follow – up techniques that were not present in the literature. Interview results were  analyzed for themes and innovative foll ow – up strategies. Consistent status meetings were  conducted at SOS to include them in the research process and report results periodically.

Results: For the literature review, 80 articles were initially identified and 30 were chosen to  inform this project. Key findings from the literature review included the need for early medical  follow – up care, early psychological care especially from support groups, the high rates of PTSD  among victims of sexual assault and the need for long – term psychological services, and the need  for new techniques and technologies to maintain contact with victims of sexual assault. The  interview results included the novel follow – up approaches of periodically initiated closed support  groups, on site individual counseling, and texting and emailing victims as means of maintaining  contact with victims. These results were used to recommend improvements to the SOS follow – up  protocol.

Conclusion: The information and knowledge gained through this project have the opportunity to  inform future improvements in follow – up, not only at SOS, but also more broadly, in other public  health and health care settings that seek to improve the health outcomes of victims of sexual  assault.