Background: A Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) is a model of service developed in the UK to provide immediate medical care, forensic and after care services for the victims of serious sexual assault. National guidelines recommend female medical staff for victims of serious sexual assault, although there has been few studies specifically undertaken to ask victims themselves about their choice of gender of staff in a SARC.
Objective: To collect feedback from victims about their preferences for staff gender within SARCs as a means of informing recruitment policy.
Methods: Three SARCs participated in the study; two in London and one in Manchester. Clients over the age of 16 years (with no vulnerability) were asked to complete a questionnaire about their preference for gender of staff providing forensic examination and care.
Results: Most victims (76.8%, male and female) preferred SARC staff to be female. Almost 100% of victims would continue with the examination if carried out by a female doctor, whereas 43.5% of victims said they would not if the doctor were male.
Conclusion: SARCs should continue to consider female staff as the primary gender of staff providing services, as part of their recruitment policy, within the realms of employment law.