Sexual violence (SV) experienced by women on college campuses is a serious public health problem that has garnered a national response. Campus climate surveys show that approximately one in five college women experience sexual violence. Federal regulations now mandate implementation of educational prevention programs for new students of institutions of higher education (IHEs). Best practices for sexual violence prevention involve the design of programs that target both men for prevention and women for risk reduction. This Fast-Track STTR proposal integrates both behavioral science and emerging technologies in a genderspecific web-based program targeting female college students. RealConsent is designed to reduce young women?s risk for sexual assault by a) increasing young women?s awareness of the risks of alcohol use; b) enhancing the skills necessary for engaging in alcohol-related protective behaviors; c) raising awareness of dating-related risk factors for victimization; d) teaching effective resistance strategies; and e). RealConsent will incorporate high-level production quality, educational entertainment, didactic methods, and interactive problembased learning via a web portal. Our long-term goal is to disseminate the program to IHEs nation-wide and contribute to a significant reduction in sexual violence incidence and associated morbidity.
The specific aims for Phase I of this project are:
Aim 1 : Develop one, 30-minute alcohol awareness and risk reduction web-based module specific to female college students. This module will represent one module of a more comprehensive, four-module web-based program.
Aim 2 : Assess the acceptability and feasibility of the web-based alcohol risk reduction module to increase alcohol protective behaviors among female college students. Focus groups and a pilot study with female college students will test the module for acceptability and feasibility. Once milestones for Phase I are achieved, Phase II will begin and aims are to:
Aim 1 : Develop modules two-four of the webbased program, the web portal for delivery of the program and the administrator dashboard.
Aim 2 : Determine efficacy of RealConsent in reducing incidence of sexual assault victimization. A randomized controlled trial implemented among a sample of 750 female college students attending three diverse, southeastern universities will test the program for its efficacy: n=375 women will be randomly assigned to RealConsent and n=375 will be assigned to an attention-placebo comparison program. Assessments will occur online at baseline, prior to randomization, and at 6-month post-intervention follow-up. We will then develop final versions of the interactive web-based program for marketability to IHEs.
The research involved in this Fast-Track STTR application will provide critical information on the feasibility and efficacy of a web-based prevention program for female college students that increases skills and knowledge to reduce their risk of victimization. Evidence-based prevention programs are greatly needed by institutions of higher education to meet federal mandates. RealConsent fills this need by providing a theoretically-driven, gender-specific program with enhanced scalability that can significantly alter social norms surrounding sexual violence and reduce incidence of sexual violence on college campuses.