Attitudes of adult/adolescent sexual assault nurse examiners and caring for younger patients.J Emerg Nurs 2014; 40(1):39-45JE
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) are specialized nurses who provide sexual assault (SA) examinations and forensic evidence collection. Currently, Adult/Adolescent (A/A) SANEs in Massachusetts are trained and certified to care only for patients 12 years and older who present acutely to EDs. The purpose of this study was to describe the attitudes of SANEs regarding the possibility of cross-training to care for younger patients (<12 years).
This qualitative, descriptive study included a sample of 45 A/A SANEs who participated in a series of 6 focus groups. The focus groups were audiotape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Content analysis was used to analyze the raw data. Units of in vivo coding assisted in the identification of initial broad categories that were winnowed to represent final themes that described the participants' attitudes.
Although the majority of SANEs enthusiastically endorsed the option of pediatric cross-training, a smaller portion of participants expressed strong opposition to the proposal. The SANEs' concerns included the emotional toll of caring for children who have been sexually assaulted, and the need for an adequate infrastructure within the SANE Program to educate, train, and support the cross-training effort.
This research fills a gap in the forensic and ED nursing literature by providing insights into the attitudes and concerns of SANEs who care for some of the most vulnerable patients. The findings of this study can inform the acute care and evidence collection practices that are used when caring for pediatric patients who have experienced SA.