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Interpretation of Findings and Referrals

The forensic examiner should correlate allegations of abuse with the findings of the physical and psychological evaluation and indicate his or her level of confidence in the correlations (e.g., inconsistent, consistent with, highly consistent with, or pathognomonic). A final statement of opinion regarding all sources of evidence (physical and psychological findings, historical information, photographic findings, diagnostic test results, knowledge of regional practises of torture, consultation reports, etc.) and the possibility of torture should be included. The examiner also should provide any referrals or recommendations for further evaluation of and care for the interviewee.

Unfortunately, it is a common misconception among evaluators, attorneys and adjudicators that psychological evidence is of lesser value than “objective” physical findings. The aim and effect of torture is largely psychological. The psychological evaluation is critical in assessing the level of consistency between the alleged trauma and individual psychological responses. In some cases, the symptoms may be either attenuated or exacerbated depending on the meaning assigned to individual experiences.