During one of its most difficult episodes, Grey's Anatomy took care to include several key viewer discretion warnings and information about how to reach out to various crisis hotlines, and that decision had some measurable effects on the public.
A new study published by The Journal of the American Medical Association found that the Season 15 episode titled "Silent All These Years," which included a post-episode PSA from Ellen Pompeo that encouraged audiences to reach out to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) hotline (1-800-656-4673), was directly linked to an increase in searches related to the hotline as well as a 1,000 percent increase in engagements with the organization's Twitter account, the day after the episode aired.
Trevor Torgerson, the Oklahoma State University medical student who co-authored the study, told Axios that he also uncovered a sharp uptick in communications with RAINN's hotline in conjunction with the episode as well.
"More importantly, the RAINN hotline saw their call volume increase by 43 percent in the 48 hours after the episode," Torgerson told the site. "These findings are important as it displays another way for the media and involved parties to reach survivors of sexual violence who may not be aware of the resources otherwise."
Grey's Anatomy's "Silent All These Years," which aired in March, featured devastating descriptions of sexual assault, after Jo (Camilla Luddington) visited her estranged birth mother (Michelle Forbes) and found out the horrific details of her pregnancy.
It was one of several episodes throughout the season that directed audiences to seek help if they were to identify with the characters' crises. A previous episode centered on Jo's history with domestic abuse went so far as to re-title itself "1-800-799-7233" in order to direct audiences to a helpline.