35% of Psychologists and Psychiatrists Say More Patients Discuss Sexual Assault With Them, While 55% Predict More Open Dialogues In Next 5 Years; Media Coverage the Largest Trigger
BOSTON, MA October 28, 2016 — As the topic of sexual assault gets continued examination via the US Presidential election, new data about US psychiatrists and psychologists’ discussions on sexual assault with their patients suggest that these clinicians believe the nation has made strides in coming to terms with the topic in the past 5 years, and that such greater awareness may be a silver lining to recent political discourse.
The data are from a microsurvey performed by real-time market insights technology firm InCrowd on October 19-20, 2016 and showed that 35% of US psychologists and psychiatrists surveyed said the number of patients wishing to discuss verbal and or physical sexual assault with them had increased in the past 5 years. Those clinicians who reported an increase in patient volume wishing to discuss assault said it increased on average of about 23% during that time. Several respondents in verbatim remarks specifically cited the present US political election-spawned discussion of sexual assault as bringing the topic to the forefront.
Yet awareness of what constitutes sexual assault is still not widespread among patients, according to the data. Only 5% of respondents said that all of their patients understood the definition of verbal and/or physical sexual assault, versus 55% saying that most of their patients understood the definition, and 39% saying only some understood it.
Media coverage played heavily into triggering events—something that sets off a memory or flashback transporting the person back to the event of his/her original trauma. When asked to rank among 6 likely triggering events, media coverage in national, local, or broadcast outlets ranked in the top 2 triggers up to 65% of respondents. Forty-four percent of respondents said in the past 5 years, patients have become more explicit in their experiences, more willing to share their stories, and more aware about these issues.
“Awareness of sexual assault appears to have grown for some time, and that even if today’s political rhetoric acts as a painful trigger for some victims, clinicians are viewing our more open dialogue on the topic as opportunity for many to take a step toward dialogue and healing,” said Diane Hayes, PhD, president and co-founder of InCrowd.
As dialogues on sexual assault expand in public forums and between individuals, 55% of clinician respondents predicted that in 5 more years, patients would feel even more comfortable to share sexual assault related matters with them, and/or would be more aware of the definition of sexual assault definitions.
Other results show:
- Disclosure occurs most likely with friends—in 45% of instances according to respondents, compared to 28% to a spouse, parent, or other family member.
- In 4% of instances respondents used message boards or closed Facebook groups to make their first disclosure.
- Clinicians may be more adept at detecting possible sexual assault than 5 years ago, according to several verbatim remarks by those 44% of respondents who detected an increase in patients who were more willing to share their stories. “I am better able to ask questions; and I have learned when not to ask questions,” said one psychiatrist.
The sexual assault perception survey used InCrowd’s 5-minute MicroSurvey platform to assess the responses of 144 qualified US-based psychologists (n-=42) and psychiatrists (n=102) with an average of 21 years of practice to 5 questions on patient discussions about physical and/or verbal sexual assault. Responses were fielded on October 19-20, 2016.
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