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Child sexual abuse among medical school students: experiences and perceptions

A Correction to this article was published on 07 April 2020

This article has been updated

Abstract

Given that 5–25% of the adult population report child sexual abuse (CSA), most clinicians will care for victims. Data regarding CSA experiences among medical students are limited and the association of medical students’ own history of CSA with relevant perceptions has not been previously examined. The aim of this study was to assess CSA perceptions and exposure of medical students, while exploring their associations. For this purpose, a link was created and made available on a site accessed solely by the Athens medical school undergraduates from February 20 to March 20 2019, comprising a 12-item questionnaire to assess the knowledge and past experience of CSA. This was based on a larger published questionnaire, which was translated and adapted. The questionnaire was then transcripted online, and after pilot testing, was disseminated using the Google documents® platform. Out of 261 responses, CSA was reported by 48 participants (18%), of which 39 were women. Thirty five reported contact CSA. Thirty seven victims (77%) reported previous disclosure of the event, but 18 of them were not protected post disclosure. CSA victims were less likely to agree with the perception that most perpetrators are mentally ill or disabled (p = 0.043), and more likely to strongly disagree with the statement that reputable families are protected from sexual abuse (p = 0.019). In agreement with existing data in general populations globally, about one in five medical students had exposure to CSA. In addition, a potential association of their own experiences with shaping perceptions regarding the identity of CSA perpetrators and affected families for medical students is highlighted.

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Correspondence to Lina Michala.

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Soldatou, A., Pantzios, S.I., Panagiotou, MR. et al. Child sexual abuse among medical school students: experiences and perceptions. Int J Impot Res 33, 364–368 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41443-020-0254-4

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