How a 'Grey's Anatomy' episode boosted sexual assault awareness

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Social media posts mentioning sexual assault and calls to a sexual assault hotline skyrocketed after the TV show "Grey's Anatomy" aired an episode spotlighting the issue in March, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The end of the episode featured a public service announcement in which lead actress Ellen Pompeo shared the phone number for the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network hotline.

To assess the episode's influence on public awareness of sexual assault, researchers analyzed data on Google and Twitter searches for the two weeks before and week after the episode ran.

Online searches for the RAINN hotline increased 41 percent after the episode aired. Tweets including the word "sexual assault hotline" jumped 1,955 percent. RAINN also reported a 43 percent increase in calls to the hotline in the 48 hours after the episode came out.

"Increasing accurate portrayals of sexual assault in the media, coupled with increased awareness of organizations similar to RAINN, may positively affect public health," researchers concluded.

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