The Current State of Sexual Assault in the Military: Evaluation of Policy, Barriers to Reporting and Screening, and Follow-up Care

The Current State of Sexual Assault in the Military: Evaluation of Policy, Barriers to Reporting and Screening, and Follow-up Care

Bibliography

Name: Micheal Allen

Rank: Capt

Presenter/Poster:

Year: 2016

Abstract

Background: Sexual assault (SA) is associated with a number of sequelae that may affect the physical and mental health of victims. Many active duty military members are victims of SA before or during their military service. SA screening polices, screening practices, and follow-up care impacts the health of our military members.
Design: The three-armed quality assessment project used a policy review in arm one; a review of literature and local provider survey for arm two; and a retrospective chart review for arm three.
Results: No policy mandating screening for history of SA victimization prior to military accession could be identified, and more research is needed to determine whether screening new accessions for SA would be helpful for either the individual or the military. There were no significant differences in SA follow-up care between victims treated at the trainee clinic compared to those treated at the primary care clinics. Unique barriers complicate the reporting of SA by military members. Providers working in military primary care settings have diverse training needs and encounter unique barriers to identifying SA history.
Implications for Practice: Adverse consequences of SA include psychological, physical, and spiritual dysfunction. No Department of Defense or Air Force policy mandates SA screening during the accession period, despite a strong association in the literature between prior victimization and adverse outcomes in individuals with a history of SA. Military SA training can be improved to target specific reporting and screening barriers in effort to remove stigma, fears of reporting, and confidentiality concerns (among others). Many avenues for improving follow-up care can be taken, such as efforts to perform appropriate lab work up at recognized time-frames and consideration for mental health consultation.