This study investigated how 99 children who were examined for suspected sexual abuse (SSA) perceived their own medical evaluation experiences. Each child was interviewed about the degree of pain and fear associated with the experience, the kindness of the doctor, general fear of doctor visits, and degree of fear associated with a hypothetical second examination. The majority of children did not perceive their SSA examination to be strongly negative. However children did report greater fear associated with the SSA evaluation compared to an ordinary doctor visit. Using multiple regression, general fear of doctor visits and fear and pain associated with the SSA examination contributed to the prediction of intensity of fear about a hypothetical second SSA evaluation. Perceived kindness of the doctor, patient sex and age, and physician sex and age did not contribute to the regression equation. The relatively low reported rate of intense distress associated with medical evaluation of SSA suggests that fear and pain can be minimized and effectively managed for many children. The results of the regression analysis suggest that previous negative medical experiences may play an important role in determining how a child interprets the experience of an SSA medical evaluation.
- Child abuse
- Child sexual abuse
- Medical evaluation for child sexual abuse
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health