Online Program

It's Your Place: Development and evaluation of an evidence-based bystander intervention campaign

Monday, November 2, 2015

Beth Sundstrom, Ph.D., M.P.H., Department of Communication, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC
Andrea DeMaria, PhD, MS, Department of Health and Human Performance, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC
Merissa Ferrara, PhD, MA, Department of Communication, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC
Colby Gabel, School of Health and Human Performance, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC
One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college. Bystander intervention offers a promising approach to change social norms and prevent sexual assault. This study presents formative research, implementation, and evaluation of a multi-media campaign to increase awareness of sexual assault and promote active bystander intervention. The goal of the campaign is to increase awareness and mastery of bystander intervention techniques in order to prevent sexual assault. Rigorous formative audience research included eight focus groups with college women and men (n = 69) to assess knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to sexual assault and bystander intervention. Findings revealed the target audience’s perceived barriers, potential benefits, competing behaviors, and influence of important others on bystander intervention. Specifically, emergent themes included: 1) female participants’ experiences of sexism and misogyny; 2) the myth that rape is falsely reported; 3) complex understandings of consent and entitlement; 4) the reluctance to stop someone from having a “good time” and; 5) the role of alcohol as a moderating factor in sexual assault and bystander intervention. These findings were used to segment target audiences and develop campaign strategies, communication channels, and messages, including “It’s your place to prevent sexual assault: You’re not ruining a good time.” The campaign fosters a culture of bystander intervention through peer-to-peer facilitation and training, as well as traditional and new media platforms to reach young adults. While campaign evaluation is ongoing, this evidence-based health communication campaign offers practical suggestions to promote active bystander intervention and reduce sexual assault on college campuses.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify knowledge and beliefs about sexual assault and bystander intervention. Discuss how a multi-media health communication campaign was developed to reduce the prevalence of sexual assault on a college campus. Explain the importance of evaluating an evidence-based multi-media health communication campaign.

Keyword(s): Sexual Assault, Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an expert in my field. I have been conducting public health-related research for over 7 years in the areas of women's reproductive and sexual health. I have co-authored numerous publications, grants, and presentations related to sexual assault prevention and bystander intervention.
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.