Abstract| Volume 12, ISSUE 4, SUPPLEMENT , P26, April 2011

Body regions with new moderate or severe pain are common six weeks after sexual assault

      To date, no longitudinal studies have enrolled sexual assault (SA) survivors in the immediate aftermath of SA and evaluated changes in pain symptoms over time. In this study, we assessed the incidence and distribution of new moderate or severe pain (NMSP) 6 weeks after SA. Women ≥ 18 years of age presenting within 72 hours of SA to one of 11 acute medical treatment centers were recruited. Pain symptom assessments were performed 1 and 6 weeks after assault (0-10 numeric rating scale [NRS] in each of eight body regions). One week evaluation included an assessment of both current pain and pain experienced during the week prior to assault. SA history and participant physical examination/injury information were obtained from treatment center records. NMSP in a body region at 6 weeks was defined by NRS pain score ≥ 4 in a region in which pain score ≤ 3 was reported during the week prior to SA. To date, 64 adult women survivors (mean(SD) age = 26(7.9)) have completed 6 week follow-up. NMSP was present in 27/64 (42%) of SA survivors: 10/64 (16%) had NMSP in 1 body region, 6/64 (9%) had NMSP in 2 body regions, and 11/64 (17%) had NMSP in ≥ 3 regions. NMSP was most common in the back (17, 22%), abdomen (13, 20%), neck (12, 19%), and head or face (12, 19%). In the majority of body regions with NMSP (71%), there was no historical or physical evidence of trauma at the time of assault. These results suggest that one or more regions of NMSP are common 6 weeks after assault in SA survivors. Regions of NMSP are not limited to genital/pelvic regions or regions experiencing substantial trauma. Further studies are needed to better understand the development of pain symptoms after SA.