U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Rural Availability of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs)

NCJ Number
Journal of Rural Health Volume: 37 Issue: 1 Dated: 2021 Pages: 81-91
Date Published
11 pages

This study examined the availability of sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) in rural communities.


Sexual assault care provided by SANEs is associated with improved health and prosecutorial outcomes. Upon completion of SANE training, nurses can demonstrate their experience and expertise by obtaining SANE certification. Availability of nurses with SANE training or certification is often limited in rural areas, and there are no studies of rural certified SANEs. The current study analyzed both county-level and hospital-level data to comprehensively examine SANE availability. This article first describes the geographic distribution of certified SANEs across rural and non-rural (i.e., urban or suburban) Pennsylvania counties. it then analyzes hospital-level data from semi-structured interviews with rural hospital emergency department administrators, using qualitative content analysis. The study identified 49 certified SANEs across Pennsylvania, with 24.5 percent (n = 12) located in 8 (16.7 percent) of Pennsylvania’s 48 rural counties. The remaining 37 certified SANEs (75.5 percent) were in 13 (68.4 percent) of Pennsylvania’s 19 non-rural counties. Interview data were collected from 63.9 percent of all eligible rural Pennsylvania hospitals (n = 63) and show that 72.5 percent (n = 29) have SANEs. Of these, 20.7 percent (n = 6) have any certified SANE availability. A minority of hospitals (42.5 percent; n = 17) have continuous SANE coverage. Very few SANEs in rural Pennsylvania have certification, suggesting barriers to certification may exist for rural SANEs. Although most hospitals have SANEs, the availability of SANEs was limited by inconsistent coverage. A lack of certified SANEs and inconsistent SANE coverage may place rural sexual assault victims at risk of receiving lower quality sexual-assault care. 3 tables (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2021