A Survey of Pregnant Women's Knowledge About Sexual Abuse

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Study objective: To assess pregnant women's understanding of sexual abuse prevalence and perpetrator characteristics. Design: A multiple choice questionnaire concerning knowledge about sexual abuse prevalence and an understanding of potential perpetrators was presented to patients. Comparisons were made based on participant's age, educational status, and personal involvement in the care of children. Setting: Prenatal clinic, Department of OB/GYN, James H. Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee. Participants: Patients presenting for new obstetrical evaluation (N = 289). Main Outcome Measures: Responses to the questionnaire. Results: Less than half of the subjects correctly answered questions about sexual abuse prevalence. Only 22% of patients understood the potential youthfulness of juvenile sex offenders. Neither age nor child care responsibilities affected response. Subjects with greater than 12 years of formal education achieved significantly higher scores than those with less edu cation. 59% of respondents were interested in more information. Conclusion: Pregnant women's knowledge about the dangers of sexual abuse was suboptimal in this population. The majority of patients were interested in more information.