Prevalence of sexual abuse among women seeking gynecologic care in Germany

Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Jan;101(1):103-8. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(02)02248-2.


Objective: To estimate the prevalence of sexual abuse among patients seen for gynecologic care in Germany.

Methods: A short anonymous questionnaire was distributed to 1157 women attending a gynecologic outpatient clinic at a large urban teaching hospital. Data collected using the questionnaire included patient characteristics, sexual abuse history, and screening practices. Women who reported that they had been abused were asked if they had ever discussed the issue with their gynecologist.

Results: A total of 1075 questionnaires were returned, for a response rate of 92.9%. Almost half (n = 479 [44.6%]) of the women surveyed reported that they had been the subject of unwanted sexual attention. One fifth (n = 216 [20.1%]) had been forced to engage in sexual activities: 6.8% in childhood, 10.3% during adolescence, 6.4% as an adult, and 3.5% across more than one stage. Thirteen women (6%) reported having discussed the abuse with their gynecologist. Sixty-six (30.5%) were too afraid to raise the issue, and 119 (55.1%) stated it was not relevant to their care. Only one woman (0.5%) reported that her gynecologist had asked about sexual abuse.

Conclusion: Despite the high prevalence of sexual abuse among women seeking gynecologic care, routine screening does not appear to be part of standardized practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data*