Background: Approximately one in five women in the United States experience childhood sexual abuse or rape as an adult. Healthcare providers are often not equipped to address the long-term effects of sexual trauma and its impact on one's health. Research Question: How can healthcare providers lessen service barriers for SA survivors? Method: This qualitative study employed convenience sampling from clinics that offered family medicine, urgent care, gynecology, or obstetrics. Participants included 11 physicians, physician assistants, and nurses. A semi-structured interview guide was used to explore health providers' perspectives and current practice procedures regarding treatment for sexual assault survivors and the barriers they face in treating this population. Data analysis involved a constant comparative method for identifying, organizing, describing, analyzing, and reporting themes within the data set. Results: The findings indicated three key barriers to providing care for female SA survivors: 1) personal/professional discomfort in discussing the topic of SA, 2) lack of knowledge and training on trauma-informed care, and 3) lack of time spent with each patient. Discussion: Recommendations for healthcare providers include 1) universal trauma-informed care training to better serve and support sexual assault and other trauma survivors, 2) revision of intake forms to include questions on sexual trauma history, and 3) inclusive services such as spending extra time on procedures, talking gently with the patient, and providing resources for mental healthcare services. Implications: Sexual assault survivors are less likely to be triggered or retraumatized by trauma-informed healthcare providers. Thus, they do not avoid annual physicals, medical tests, or setting up appointments when not feeling well, thereby enhancing their health outcomes.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Anderson, Kim M.


Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.)


College of Health Professions and Sciences


Social Work

Degree Program

Social Work



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date


Included in

Social Work Commons