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The Effects of Age and Ethnicity on Physical Injury from Rape


Marilyn S. Sommers, PhD, RN, FAAN, College of Nursing, University of Cincinnati, P.O. Box 210038, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0038. E-mail:


Objective:  To determine whether postmenopausal (age 50 years or older) women would sustain significantly more injury after rape than women younger than 50 and to determine the role of skin pigmentation in the observance of genital injury.

Design and Setting:  Registry data from a sexual assault forensic nurse examiners program.

Participants:  Based on date of examination, records from women of age 50 years or older (n= 40) were matched to two other participants: a premenopausal group younger than 40 years and a perimenopausal group of 40 to 49 years. The final sample consisted of 120 subjects.

Main Outcome Measures:  Number, type, and location of injuries.

Results:  A series of exact conditional logistic regression analyses indicated no significant association between age and genital, nongenital, or head injury. A significant association between race (Black versus White) and genital injury (adjusted odds ratio = 4.30, 95% confidence interval = 1.09-25.98, p= .03) indicated that Whites were more than four times as likely as Blacks to have genital injury.

Conclusion:  Although the primary hypothesis was not supported, the role of racial/ethnic differences and their association with the observance of injury need further exploration to determine whether the standard forensic examination is appropriate for all women. Health disparities may exist if women of color are less likely than others to have genital injuries identified and treated. Alternatively, skin properties may explain racial/ethnic differences in injury prevalence. JOGNN, 35, 199-207; 2006. DOI: 10.1111/J.1552-6909.2006.00026.x

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