RN Advocate Rape Kit and App
Interaction Design / 3D Product / App / Strategy / Design Research
MFA Products of Design
School of Visual Arts, 2018
RNA - RN Advocate, is a redesigned rape kit paired with a digital platform that helps guide emergency room nurses and doctors through the rape kit process.
RN Advocate is meant to help emergency room nurses and doctors, who often have to perform the rape kits but who have not been trained in them or around sexual assault, feel more confident and engaged in the rape kit process. It consists of two components: 1) a redesign of the kit itself, transforming the visuals and graphics to be more approachable and clear, and 2) an app that guides nurses and doctors through each step of the kit and logs in how many kits each nurse and doctor partake in.
The Current Landscape
According to researchers and subject matter experts, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) nurses are one of the most crucial aspects of sexual assault kits. They go through extensive trauma-informed approach training, and they’re trained in what steps they must conduct, how best to collect evidence, and how to be patient and empathetic with the patient. However, according to a study, only 13% of hospitals in the United States have SANE nurses (Hazelwood and Burgess, 2017). Therefore, if hospitals do have SANE nurses or SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examine) programs, the kits are being collected by emergency nurses and doctors, many often who see the kit for the first time as the survivor and are overwhelmed by its many steps and the pressure of collecting evidence. Studies also found that because the kits can be so time consuming, emotionally and physically intense, and are performed in the ER where there are often more “pressing” concerns, untrained nurses and doctors often convince survivors not to get the kits. The kits’ current design increases the stress around collecting evidence as it is highly text and paperwork based and doesn’t allow those who are unfamiliar with the kits to easily sort through what is necessary and what isn’t.
Non-SANE nurses — ER Nurses and Doctors — who often perform sexual assault kit exams don’t have training in collecting evidence or in sexual assault trauma-focused-approaches and don't necessarily know what to do, or want to do it. How might we make performing the sexual assault exam (kit) more comprehensive for emergency room nurses and doctors while also empowering them to be part of the process and confident in their care?
This project began by interviewing a variety of Emergency Room nurses and doctors to find out what their opinions around sexual assault kits are, if they have any concerns, and what they would like to see improved. I spoke with 6 nurses and interviewed them each about their experiences working with the kits, what training they received and how they perceived their role with the kits to be.
Theory of Change
Many emergency room nurses said that the kits were really important but then would talk about how relieved they would be when they didn’t have to perform them. Based off this insight that the kits are in fact too overwhelming for ER nurses, and I began to design kits that would make the entire process as easy, simple and quick to navigate by color coordinating each step and making it clear what is necessary and what is circumstantial, but also that would incentivize the nurses to want to be part of the process.
“The kits are so incredibly important and as nurses we are all very patient and willing to help. But you know, the hospital I am in now doesn’t provide or perform the kits, and I’m so glad it doesn’t.”
Emergency Room Nurse
A PRODUCT & PLATFORM
A new designed rape kit paired with an app. The redesigned kit has a gentler visual design on the outside, and its interior and envelopes (each step) are color coordinated to easily guide the nurses/doctor through the process, clearly symbolizing which steps are necessary and which are dependent on the case. The app provides video tutorials and visual instructions on how to collect the evidence so that nurses may feel more confident and in control when performing the exam. The benefit of the program and the app is that it includes an incentive/reward system: For each kit that the nurse/doctor performs, the app tracks and records it so that once the nurse/doctor reach a certain amount, they receive a reward such as an extra day off or financial incentive chosen by the jurisdiction and hospital.