Online Program

Risk reduction in online dating: Translating research to practice

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Carla L. VandeWeerd, PhD, Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Jaime Corvin, PhD, MSPH, Department of Global Health, College of Public Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Martha L. Coulter, DrPH MPH MSW, Department of Community and Family Health, University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Ali Yalcin, PhD, College of Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Elizabeth Perkins, PhD., RNLD., FAAIDD, Florida Center for Inclusive Communities/UCEDD University of South Florida, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Jaime L. Myers, MPH, CHES, Department of Community and Family Health, University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Mary Ivory, Harrell Center for the Study of Family Violence, University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Background: Older women report a variety of negative experiences when dating online, including financial exploitation, deception, verbal abuse, and unwanted sexual aggression. As a result, this study seeks to synthesize strategies older women report using to minimize online dating risk and apply these strategies to the formation of a health promotion and prevention model.

Methods: Risks and benefits of online dating were assessed through semi-structured telephone interviews (N=45) with women ages 50+ who seek relationships online within 50 miles of the zip code 33602. Interviews lasted approximately one hour and were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, team coded, and analyzed using ATLAS ti software.

Results: Content analysis of risks and benefits of dating online identified that many women learned about online risks through individual trial and error. “Lessons learned” included how to identify a scammer, strategies for a safe first meeting in person, and how to deter unwanted sexual messages. These recurrent themes highlight a need to address common online experiences prior to the initiation of online dating to reduce/avoid risks for adverse outcomes such as financial exploitation or unwanted sexual aggression. Conclusions: Health promotion efforts to decrease the online dating vulnerability of older women can incorporate strategies women currently use to minimize risk such as altering profile content to include warnings, identifying safe meeting places and exit strategies for in-person meetings, and recognizing patterns of behavior associated with false identities and scammers. How to integrate these strategies into a primary prevention program is discussed and avenues for intervention are highlighted.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
List strategies older women who date online use to reduce their online vulnerability. Differentiate between risk reduction strategies older women use online versus strategies women use when meeting a date in person. Describe how e-dating risk reduction strategies used by older women can be used to inform public health interventions in the area of aging and dating.

Keyword(s): Aging, Domestic Violence

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am faculty in the college of public health and I am a CoPI on this study
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.