The prevalence of sexual violence (SV) is still unacceptably high in the United States; 43.6% of women and 24.8% of men have experienced some form of it in their lifetimes (Smith et al., 2018). Alcohol has been identified as a leading risk factor for both victimization and perpetration of sexual assault (Behnken, 2017; Richer et al., 2017); SV risk is also increased in social contexts that promote heavy drinking (i.e., bars) and in communities with a high density of alcohol-serving establishments (Cunradi et al., 2014; Pridemore et al., 2013). Bystander intervention programs take a multilevel approach to addressing SV risk (McMahon & Banyard, 2012), but, outside of school and campus settings, they have not been rigorously evaluated for SV outcomes. There is a critical need to test the effectiveness of SV prevention approaches in community settings where alcohol is prevalent and to understand their effects on both individuals and communities. The proposed study will assess the effectiveness of the Bar Outreach Project (BOP), a package of training and support for alcohol-serving establishments, for primary prevention of SV. The BOP has been implemented in Buncombe County, North Carolina, since 2008 by the Rape Prevention and Education-funded organization Our VOICE. Grounded in Social Norms Theory (Berkowitz, 2003; 2005) and the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991), BOP promotes anti-violence norms and creates safer environments by increasing bystander intervention among bar staff. To date, no research has examined the impact of BOP or studied conditions for successfully implementing and evaluating it. During Component A, the proposed study will assess the evaluability of BOP through formative research and pilot testing (Aim 1). Then, the evaluation will use an effectiveness- implementation hybrid design (Hybrid I; Curran et al., 2012) to assess the impact of BOP on neighborhood- level and patron-level rates of SV victimization (Aim 2), assess the impact of BOP on bar staff and environment outcomes and examine how these factors predict patron outcomes (Aim 3), and examine the conditions and characteristics necessary for effective implementation and improved staff and patron outcomes (Aim 4). Administrative data about rates of SV in intervention and comparison communities, repeated surveys of patrons and staff at 15 intervention and 15 comparison bars, semistructured interviews with managers and staff, research team observations, and Our VOICE implementation records will be used to evaluate effectiveness and implementation and to measure costs. The BOP is manualized for dissemination and has shown strong community acceptability. The outcomes of this study are expected to have an important positive impact by expanding the evidence base for SV prevention in the key areas of promoting social norms and creating protective environments and by informing future successful implementation of such programs.

Public Health Relevance

This study will rigorously evaluate Our VOICE's Rape Prevention and Education-funded Bar Outreach Project (BOP). The BOP is a package of training and support for staff at alcohol-serving establishments to improve norms about violence, create safer environments by teaching staff to intervene in potentially harmful situations, and help to prevent sexual violence in the community. Findings have the potential to expand research evidence for sexual violence prevention programming that targets both individual and community characteristics and can be widely disseminated.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)
Research Project--Cooperative Agreements (U01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZCE1)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Research Triangle Institute
Research Triangle Park
United States
Zip Code