Promoting Professional Quality of Life and Resiliency in Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners

Lindsay Bouchard, Deborah Williams, Lisa Kiser, Erica Freese, Douglas Taren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background Sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) have received specialized education and clinical training in providing forensic care for sexual assault and abuse victims. SANEs provide compassionate and competent care that promotes emotional recovery for their patients; however, caring for this population puts SANEs at risk for secondary traumatic stress, professional burnout, and compassion fatigue. The research regarding SANEs indicates that there may be multiple personal and organizational factors that affect their development of negative outcomes related to professional quality of life. Purpose This study explored challenges SANEs experience in their work and what resources are utilized to promote their resiliency and professional quality of life. Methods SANEs were recruited to complete an anonymous online survey through the International Association of Forensic Nurses community; 69 SANEs completed the survey. Eight of the SANEs also participated in follow-up focus groups. Results The participants reported many gratifying aspects of their work. They also described challenges related to personal, professional, organizational, and community factors. Many of the reported negative effects align with secondary traumatic stress and professional burnout. The SANEs identified multiple ways to support their resiliency in the context of this difficult work. Implications The nature of this work puts SANEs at risk for developing adverse symptoms related to professional quality of life. SANEs need better support and resources to cope with the demands of their work. Findings of this study will be used to design SANE Well, a support application to promote SANE wellness and resiliency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Forensic Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • Burnout
  • FNE (forensic nurse examiner)
  • SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner)
  • phone applications
  • resiliency
  • secondary traumatic stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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