Obtaining a history of sexual victimization from adolescent females seeking routine health care

Angela Diaz, Sharon Edwards, Wendy P. Neal, Pamela Ludmer, Stephen B. Sondike, Carol Kessler, Daniel Medeiros, Anne T. Nucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the clinical practice of direct physician inquiry of adolescent females during routine history taking and medical examination, with regard to their experience of childhood sexual abuse and/or assault. Method. During a one-year period, a female physician directly questioned 146 consecutive female patients, aged 12-22, who were being seen for routine medical histories and physical examinations, as to whether they had ever been sexually victimized. Patients who disclosed histories of sexual victimization were immediately counseled and provided with appropriate on-site mental health referrals. Follow-up of these referrals was conducted to determine if patients complied with referrals to seek mental health services. Results: For 141 of the 146 patients, the physician was unaware of a history of sexual victimization. Of these 141 patients, thirty-two (23%) cases were identified using this clinical strategy. Almost all (93%) of these young women accepted referrals for on-site psychotherapy, and 81% kept their initial appointments for psychotherapy. Conclusions: The routine medical history and physical examination may be an appropriate setting for health care providers to accurately and comfortably elicit a history of sexual victimization from adolescent females, and provide appropriate referrals for mental health counseling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-173
Number of pages4
JournalMount Sinai Journal of Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2004


  • Adolescent health
  • Ethics
  • Sexual abuse
  • Sexual victimization


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