Medical evaluations in cases of suspected child sexual abuse: referrals and perceptions

N Z Med J. 2001 Jul 27;114(1136):334-5.


Aims: To explore referrals to medical evaluations and children's and primary carers' experiences of those evaluations in Auckland.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with children and young people who had made clear disclosures of sexual abuse, their primary carers and the social workers involved.

Results: More than 90% of children alleging penetration or attempted penetration were referred for a medical evaluation, but less than two thirds of children alleging oral genital or digital contact abuse were referred. Although the majority perceived the medical practitioners positively, many also commented on the distressing nature of the examinations, the photographs of children's genitalia and lack of preparation for those examinations.

Conclusions: The findings highlight the need for improved preparation of children and their primary carers for medical evaluations. Ongoing discussion between referring agents and medical practitioners is desirable to ensure protocols are updated and adhered to.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / diagnosis*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment
  • New Zealand
  • Physical Examination*
  • Primary Health Care
  • Referral and Consultation*