Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 77–86 | Cite as

An Assessment of State Level Sexual Assault Prevalence Estimates



The purpose of our research is to compare sexual violence prevalence rates from three sources of state level data. Public health officials, legislators and other policymakers often require state-level sexual assault prevalence estimates to justify funding and rationalize both new and ongoing sexual violence prevention programs, as well as programs for victims. We compared survey design and resulting prevalence rates of the three surveys frequently used at the state level: the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) extrapolations, and replications of the NVAWS. Although the specificity of the questions used in the NVAWS provides a clearer picture of the prevalence of sexual assault than the BRFSS questions, the sexual violence module on the BRFSS survey has the advantage that it is used regularly by some states. Currently available female sexual assault prevalence estimates differ widely at the state level but can be used when interpreted with informed caution. The new National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Surveillance System holds promise for providing better estimates in the future.


BRFSS NVAW Sexual assault State level estimates 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Horton Social Science CenterUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Management & PolicyUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  3. 3.State Maternal & Child Health EpidemiologistNH Division of Public Health ServicesConcordUSA

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