Forensic Nursing and the Healthcare System's Response to Sexual Violence


  • Sydney George MacEwan University


This article presents a rapid review of the literature on care provided to survivors of sexual assault in hospitals and treatment centers. The purpose of the review is to examine the Canadian healthcare system’s response to survivors of sexual assault to provide an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of care provided, in order to identify recommendations to improve our response in the future. The studies included in the review were located by exploring four electronic databases and reference searching. Results show that survivors of sexual assault generally expressed high levels of satisfaction with the hospital- based nursing care received. Patients often left feeling empowered, respected, and well- informed. The most common downfall of care was the wait time that survivors had to endure while waiting for a forensic nurse. As well, there was some discrepancies on clear informed consent in the medical forensic examination. Recommendations for improved care involved the following: having around the clock and on-site sexual assault nurse examiners in emergency departments, increased privacy for survivors, sensitivity training for emergency department staff and general practitioners, and implementing systemwide policy and education to care for survivors. Lastly, limitations of the reviewed studies and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Faculty: Nursing

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Judee Onyskiw