Open Access Research article

Knowledge and confidence of South African health care providers regarding post-rape care: a cross-sectional study

Ruxana Jina1*, Rachel Jewkes12, Nicola Christofides1 and Lizle Loots2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

2 Gender and Health Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:257  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-257

Published: 3 July 2013



In South Africa, providers are trained on post-rape care by a multitude of organisations, resulting in varied knowledge and skills. In 2007, a national training curriculum was developed and piloted in the country. The objectives of this paper are to identify the factors associated with higher knowledge and confidence in providers at the commencement of the training and to reflect on the implications of this for training and other efforts being made to improve services.


A cross-sectional study using questionnaires was conducted. Providers who attended the training provided information on socio-demographic background, service provision, training, attitudes, and confidence. Knowledge was measured through multiple choice questions. Bi-variable analysis was carried out in order to test for factors associated with high knowledge and confidence. Variables with a p value of <0.20 were then included in backward selection to develop the final multivariable models.


Of the 124 providers, 70% were female and 68% were nurses. The mean age of the providers was 41.7 (24 – 64) years. About 60% of providers were trained in providing post-rape care. The median percentage knowledge score was 37.3% (0% - 65.3%) and the median percentage confidence score was 75.4% (10% - 100%). Having a more appropriate attitude towards rape was associated with higher knowledge, while older providers and nurses had lower odds of having high knowledge levels. Working in a crisis centre in the facility, having examined a survivor in the last 3 months, and seeing more than 60% of survivors who came to the facility were associated with higher confidence. Higher confidence was not associated with greater knowledge.


The study indicated that although confidence was high, there was poor knowledge in providers, even in those who were previously trained. Knowledge seems to be critically dependant on attitude, which highlights the need for educating providers on rape and the seriousness of the problem. There is a need to train more providers in post-rape care in country, and to ensure that training is comprehensive, and that providers who are trained remain knowledgeable and skilled in current best practices.

South Africa; Rape; Training; Knowledge; Health providers