DOI: 10.1177/10783903231216138 ISSN: 1078-3903

A Systematic Review of Evidence-Based Treatments for Adolescent and Adult Sexual Assault Victims

Leslie W. Miles, Julie L. Valentine, Linda J. Mabey, Elizabeth S. Hopkins, Paige J. Stodtmeister, Reilly B. Rockwood, Alyssa N. H. Moxley
  • Pshychiatric Mental Health


Sexual assault (SA) is a serious crime that is a prevalent mental and public health problem.


Addressing the needs of SA victims and providing appropriate treatment are essential to reduce potential adverse short- and long-term outcomes.


Our team undertook an extensive systematic literature review (published between January 2006 and July 2021) to provide evidence-based mental health intervention recommendations for adolescent and adult victims of SA. Where SA-specific research was limited, the literature and clinical practice guidelines on treatments for trauma-induced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were reviewed to provide additional information to formulate recommendations.


Findings strongly support several primary psychotherapy treatments: cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive processing therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, narrative exposure therapy, and prolonged exposure therapy. Complementary (aerobic exercise, art, drama, and music therapy) and pharmacological treatments were explored.


Mental health nurses who provide services for victims of SA can utilize this overview to guide recommendations for treatment of SA trauma and related PTSD symptoms to mitigate the short- and long-term negative impacts after a traumatic event. When victims of SA receive optimal mental health treatments, our communities benefit as victims heal and recover.

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