A stimulus control intervention in the gynecological exam with sexual abuse survivors

Michelle S. Smith, Michael T. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The effectiveness of a new examination gown, as a stimulus control intervention designed to reduce distress during the pelvic exam, was investigated in a sample of sexual abuse survivors and women without abuse histories. Sixty-nine participants from a women's health ambulatory center and a private practice in gynecology were randomly assigned to the experimental gown condition or the paper drape control group. One-third of the sample reported a history of childhood sexual abuse. Survivors reported higher anxiety during exams than did women without abuse histories. Women who wore the experimental gown reported more positive emotional and physical experiences of the exam. Further research is required to examine the trend showing that survivors who wore the experimental gown reported less anxiety during the examination than survivors who wore the control drape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-51
Number of pages13
JournalWomen and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000



  • Anxiety
  • Gynecological exams
  • Sexual abuse
  • Stimulus control
  • Women's health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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