Sexual violence (SV) is a widespread and serious public health problem. Youth and young adults are disproportionately affected, particularly on college and university campuses. Because SV confers negative health, educational and social impacts across the lifespan, evidence-based primary prevention efforts are critical. Our stakeholders have identified Hot Spot Mapping (HSM) as an emergent strategy to address the physical and social context of SV through monitoring and characterizing unsafe areas in order to focus targeted resources on safety improvements. While HSM is gaining popularity on college and university campuses, the evidence base is limited. Neither the Theory of Change nor appropriate measures have been tailored to the campus environment. Our study will conduct these essential formative steps in order to develop and implement a rigorous trial to evaluate the impact of HSM on sexual violence prevention. The study goals are to 1) characterize HSM implementation and evaluation capacity, 2) conduct formative research steps to refine theory of change, identify appropriate measures, and leverage existing data for monitoring and evaluation, and 3) conduct a pilot of measures and data collection procedures. These formative steps will inform a subsequent protocol for a rigorous trial of this approach within higher education institutions in Aim 4. Our study is innovative in its focus on institutional readiness as it relates to HSM implementation and outcomes, and its use of ecological momentary assessment (EMA) in characterizing situational safety. We leverage a robust and long-standing academic-practitioner team with extensive expertise in the design, implementation and evaluation of sexual violence prevention programs. Results will generate victim- and evidence-informed recommendations for meaningful, rigorous evaluation research to extend the evidence base on sexual violence prevention in the uniquely relevant environment of higher education.
The study advances the national priorities of identifying evidence-based primary prevention strategies for the pervasive problem of sexual violence among youth. Findings will advance the science on monitoring and evaluation strategies for emergent interventions that seek to create protective environments. Findings address a priority topic in health promotion and injury prevention in a population of high need.