One in 5 US women experience sexual assault (SA) during their lifetime. Studies indicate that persistent pain is a common sequela of SA, but little is known about the health care services (HCS) received by these women. In this prospective observational study, we evaluated HCS received after SA by women SA survivors with and without new moderate or severe pain (NMSP). Women presenting to one of ten emergency care centers in four states after SA enrolled. Initial and six week follow-up interviews included an assessment of pain severity (0-10 scale) in each of eight body regions during the week prior to assault and during the past week, respectively. Six week follow-up interviews also included an assessment of treatments and medications received since SA. NMSP was defined as pain ≥ 4 six weeks after SA in a body region in which pain ≤ 3 was reported during the week prior to assault. Eighty-four SA survivors were enrolled, 75/84 (89%) completed six week follow-up interviews, and 33/75 (44%) had NMSP in one or more body regions. Among women without NMSP, 10/42 (24%) saw a primary care physician, 15/42 (36%) saw a mental health professional, and 14/42 (33%) received follow-up testing. Women with NMSP were more likely to see a primary care physician (16/33 (48%), p = .028), but otherwise received care at similar rates as those without NMSP: 15/33 (45%) saw a mental health professional and 14/33 (42%) received follow-up testing. Rates of pain medication use in women with and without NMSP were low and did not differ: opioids (1/33 (3%) vs. 2/42 (5%)); non-opioids (3/33 (9%) vs. 8/42 (19%)). These results suggest that most SA survivors with NMSP do not receive medical care or pain medication in the initial six weeks after SA. Supported by NCRR UL1RR025747 and NIH STRT 5T35DK00738632.
© 2013 Published by Elsevier Inc.