Protocol for the first large-scale emergency care-based longitudinal cohort study of recovery after sexual assault: the Women’s Health Study Academic Article uri icon


  • INTRODUCTION: Worldwide, an estimated 10%-27% of women are sexually assaulted during their lifetime. Despite the enormity of sexual assault as a public health problem, to our knowledge, no large-scale prospective studies of experiences and recovery over time among women presenting for emergency care after sexual assault have been performed. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: Women ≥18 years of age who present for emergency care within 72 hours of sexual assault to a network of treatment centres across the USA are approached for study participation. Blood DNA and RNA samples and brief questionnaire and medical record data are obtained from women providing initial consent. Full consent is obtained at initial 1 week follow-up to analyse blood sample data and to perform assessments at 1 week, 6 weeks, 6 months and 1 year. These assessments include evaluation of survivor life history, current health and recovery and experiences with treatment providers, law enforcement and the legal system. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This study is approved by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the IRB of each participating study site. We hope to present the results of this study to the scientific community at conferences and in peer-reviewed journals.

altmetric score

  • 4.2

author list (cited authors)

  • Short, N. A., Sullivan, J., Soward, A., Bollen, K. A., Liberzon, I., Martin, S., ... McLean, S. A.

citation count

  • 4

publication date

  • November 2019


  • BMJ  Publisher