Project Title

Prevalence Of Sexual Assault And Childhood Sexual Abuse

Research Solutions
  • General Population Survey
  • Cognitive Interviewing
  • Research on Sensitive Topics

The Research Question

The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS) is a provincial umbrella organization dedicated to creating awareness of sexual abuse and sexual assault issues. AASAS strives to ensure that all Albertans have access to healing and recovery programs, services and supports, and works with the Government of Alberta to develop effective policies and sustainable program funding for sexual assault services across the province. In countries around the world, child sexual abuse and sexual assault is a public health issue that requires urgent attention; however, prior to this study, reliable data was nearly 40 years old. New and accurate knowledge about the scope and nature of sexual abuse in Alberta was needed to help develop and promote quality treatment and foster the development of effective prevention initiatives.

Malatest Solution

Building on the work of Robin Badgley (1984), we conducted a general population survey to produce a statistically reliable estimate of Albertans’ experiences with sexual abuse throughout their lifetimes, with a focus on childhood sexual abuse, while also identifying the nature, extent, and type of sexual abuse experienced. Following the recommendations of the Health Research Ethics Board of Alberta, the survey was tested in a three-stage process that included cognitive interviewing and telephone interviews with survivors of childhood sexual abuse who had agreed to participate in the testing, followed by a general population survey.

Following the successful completion of the three pilot phases, full survey administration commenced with the general population and 1,512 completions were obtained. The survey was well-received during the survey period. The refusal rate was not substantially higher than that of other general population surveys, indicating public willingness to discuss the topic of adult and child sexual assault.

To share information on sexual assault and abuse issues and open conversations around them, AASAS released the findings to the general public and relevant stakeholders.


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