Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs of Prenursing and Nursing Students About Sexual Assault

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Sexual assault has been identified as a major public health problem in the United States, yet little research has been done regarding nursing students’ knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about sexual assault. Lack of knowledge, or victim-blaming attitudes held by healthcare providers can be problematic for the care of the sexual assault victim, leaving them feeling upset and distressed after the healthcare encounter. Prenursing and nursing students were surveyed about their knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about sexual assault. A knowledge test, the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance scale, and the Attitudes Toward Rape Victims scale were utilized in the survey; 297 students completed the survey. Results indicate that rape myth acceptance is lower for nursing students in their last semester of college than in the prenursing group; and that last-semester nursing students held less victim-blaming attitudes toward rape victims than prenursing students. The knowledge test highlights problem areas that need to be addressed by nursing education to improve the care of sexual assault patients.

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