Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Sexual abuse victims-Mental health, Sexual abuse victims-Mental health services, Post-traumatic stress disorder-Treatment, Maternity nursing, Nursing-Psychological aspects, Pregnancy-Psychological aspects, Childbirth-Psychological aspects, Sexual abuse, Pregnancy/childbirth, Nursing support


Survivors of sexual abuse may experience heightened vulnerability and sensitivity during their pregnancies and child birthing processes. This qualitative study explores how Obstetric and Gynecology (OBGYN) nurses understand and respond to the unique needs of this population, and how they partner with social workers to do so. This research highlights OBGYN nurses' attunement to survivors' needs and suggests ways that nurses and social workers can better work together to provide comprehensive care and therapeutic interventions to pregnant sexual abuse survivors. Participants (n=33), who completed an online anonymous survey, are Registered Nurses who have knowingly worked with at least one sexual abuse survivor and are employed at a United States hospital, health clinic, and/or private practice that accepts Medicaid health insurance. Findings indicate that when OBGYN nurses alter care for sexual abuse survivors, they do so in a way that promotes safety, control, and privacy for their patients. However, nurses would benefit from additional training on how to specifically respond to survivors' post-traumatic stress reactions. Social workers are encouraged to share their expertise in trauma treatment and provide obstetric nurses with therapeutic techniques that can help prevent survivors from becoming re-traumatized during prenatal exams and labor and delivery procedures.




iv, 58 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 44-51)