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CDC Advances Research on Preventing Dating, Intimate Partner, and Sexual Violence

2016 Awardees

Evaluating Practice-Based Sexual Violence Primary Prevention Approaches from CDC’s RPE Programs

Seven new research awards will rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of primary prevention strategies being implemented by, or planned for implementation with, CDC’s RPE Programs to prevent the perpetration of sexual violence. CDC’s RPE Programs support health departments in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and four U.S. territories to work with rape crisis centers, state sexual assault coalitions, and others to prevent sexual violence. This research investment is approximately $9 million over the next four years.

  • A Cluster-Randomized Trial of a Middle School Gender Violence Prevention Program– Dr. Elizabeth Miller— University of Pittsburgh
    Although dating and sexual violence can begin early, few evidence-based prevention programs are available for middle school youth. This research will address this gap with a cluster randomized control trial of Coaching Boys into Men, a promising strategy that trains athletic coaches to modify gender norms that contribute to dating and sexual violence and to promote bystander intervention skills. The impact of this program on dating and sexual violence knowledge and perpetration, gender-related views of relationships, and bystander skills will be examined by surveying male athletes in 26 middle schools before the program is implemented, at the end of the sport season, and again one year later.
  • Evaluating a Dating and Sexual Violence Bystander Prevention Program with High School Youth: A Cluster Randomized Control Trial– Dr. Katie Edwards— University of New Hampshire
    Dating violence and sexual assault among high school students is a significant public health problem, and the increased availability of evidence-based primary prevention strategies is critical. Bystander approaches are a promising strategy that encourages all community members to be involved in prevention. This research is a cluster randomized control trial of the Bringing in the Bystander-High School Curriculum. The impact of this program on dating and sexual violence-related attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors will be examined by surveying students and school staff in 26 high schools before the program is implemented, at the end of the program, and at five-month and one-year follow-ups.
  • Testing the Efficacy of a Strengths-Based Curriculum to Reduce Risk for Future Sexual Violence Perpetration among Middle School Boys – Dr. Leah Wentworth – Health Research, Inc.—New York State Department of Health
    The New York State Department of Health will collaborate with Cornell University to evaluate the efficacy of a strengths-based curriculum called the Council for Boys and Young Men. This program is designed to reduce risk for future sexual violence perpetration among middle school boys aged 12-14 years. The impact of the program on a number of outcomes will be examined, including sexual assault perpetration, bystander behavior, attitudes related to gender roles and acceptability of sexual violence, interpersonal relationships, and youth-adult connectedness. Factors that may impact the implementation of the program will also be assessed, and results will be used to inform future RPE Program activities.
  • Preventing Sexual Violence Through a Comprehensive, Peer-Led Initiative: A Process and Outcome Evaluation – Dr. Katie Edwards – University of New Hampshire
    This research will be conducted in collaboration by the University of New Hampshire, the South Dakota (SD) Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault, the SD Department of Health, and Rapid City, SD Area Schools. A youth-led violence prevention initiative will be implemented and evaluated via a quasi-experimental design in middle and high schools within Rapid City, SD. Examined program effects will include sexual violence perpetration, bystander actions, and other behaviors, such as bullying and suicidality. Information will be collected from youth, school staff, caregivers, and social media to understand how prevention messages are shared. A cost-analysis of implementing the program will be conducted to inform replication, dissemination, scalability, and sustainability efforts.
  • The Impact of Sources of Strength, a Primary Prevention Youth Suicide Program, on Sexual Violence Perpetration among Colorado High School Students – Dr. Dorothy Espelage – University of Florida
    The University of Florida and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment will collaborate on a randomized controlled trial of Sources of Strength (SoS). SoS is a school-based program that builds connections between trained student leaders and adults to strengthen social connectedness, help-seeking, and healthy norms about behavior. Previous program evaluations have shown many benefits, including reducing risks and increasing supports for students with histories of suicidal ideation. The potential broader effects on sexual violence perpetration by 9th-11th grade students will be examined in 24 high schools. This prevention strategy could have substantial public health impact by addressing risk and protective factors for multiple forms of violence.
  • A Randomized Trial of Wise Guys: The Next Level – Dr. Kathryn Beth Moracco – University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
    This research will be conducted through a collaboration between the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the Children’s Home Society of North Carolina, and the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault. The study will rigorously evaluate an ongoing RPE-funded program, Wise Guys: The Next Level. This program seeks to reduce sexual violence perpetration by addressing known risk and protective factors, such as rape culture and unhealthy masculinity, gender stereotyping, communication, and consent in relationships. Using a cluster-randomized design, the study will evaluate the program’s impacts on the perpetration of sexual violence, dating violence, bullying, and harassment as well as sexual risk behavior. The implementation costs will also be assessed to inform future prevention activities.
  • Youth Empowerment Solutions for Healthy Relationships: Engaging Youth to Prevent Sexual Violence – Dr. Poco Kernsmith – Wayne State University
    Wayne State University, the University of Michigan, and the Michigan RPE Program will collaborate to adapt, implement, and evaluate Youth Empowerment Solutions, a primary prevention strategy focused on influencing community-level change through youth empowerment and positive youth development. A group randomized trial will be used to examine the effects of the strategy on sexual violence and teen dating violence perpetration, youth empowerment, social connectedness, and social norms in six high schools in Wayne County, Michigan.

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2015 Awardees

In September 2015, CDC announced five new awardees that will rigorously evaluate approaches to prevent dating violence, intimate partner violence, and sexual violence. This research investment is approximately $6.8 million over the next four years.

  • Prevention at the Outer Layers of the Ecology: GreenDot to Build Collective Efficacy and Change Injunctive Norms
    Institution – University of New Hampshire

    Community approaches to preventing intimate partner and sexual violence are needed, and promising strategies such as GreenDot bystander training may be an important component. The Green Dot model includes community members as potential agents of social change. It seeks to engage them, through awareness, education and skills-practice, in behaviors that result in intolerance of violence as the norm. GreenDot Community will be examined using a quasi-experimental design with communities receiving GreenDot bystander trainings, GreenDot bystander trainings and capacity building for a social marketing campaign and action events, or no intervention. Reductions in rates of intimate partner and sexual violence will be examined as well as changes in community collective efficacy and norms intolerant of gender-based violence.
  • Bystander Program Adoption and Efficacy to Reduce Sexual Violence and Intimate Partner Violence in College Community
    Institution – University of Kentucky

    Bystander training helps all community members prevent dating, intimate partner, and sexual violence. Publicly-funded colleges and universities are required to implement this promising prevention strategy. A quasi-experimental study involving 24 colleges and universities will compare three bystander approaches: exclusively online training, Green Dot (an in-person, skills-based program), and other skills-based, interactive bystander programs. The impact of these approaches on sexual and intimate partner violence-related attitudes, knowledge, behaviors as well as cost-effectiveness will be examined.
  • Community Level Primary Prevention of Dating and Sexual Violence in Middle Schools
    Institution – Rhode Island Hospital

    Changing beliefs and social norms can improve health however this promising approach has not been examined for preventing dating and sexual violence. This study, which will take place in middle schools, will look at how effective a social norms marketing campaign can be in affecting misperceptions about the acceptability of dating and sexual violence, gender roles, sexual activity, sexual communication/consent, support for victims, and bystander intervention. Reductions in rates of dating and sexual violence and promoting change in community norms will be examined. Middle school students are a key population for dating and sexual violence interventions as healthy relationship behaviors can have a positive effect on a teens’ emotional development. Unhealthy, abusive, or violent relationships can have both short- and long-term consequences on a developing teen. Youth who are victims of dating violence in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college. Prevention efforts that begin early can help promote lifelong health and well-being.
  • Implementing Fourth R in U.S. schools: Feasibility, Fidelity, and Sustainability
    Institution – University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

    The Fourth R program integrates promotion of healthy relationship skills and prevention of teen dating violence into existing school curricula. Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of Fourth R, however implementing the program with fidelity and sustainability in real-world settings can be more difficult. This study will identify how factors at the school, teacher, and student levels affect program feasibility, fidelity, and sustainability in order to enhance implementation of this effective program. Teachers will be trained to implement Fourth R with 9th-grade students in 10 ethnically, economically, and geographically diverse high schools in Texas. Implementation barriers at the school, teacher, and student levels will be captured as well as practices that can assist with sustainability of the intervention and how these issues may affect changes in student’s attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors related to teen dating violence.
  • Randomized Trial Integrating Substance Abuse with Bystander-Based Violence Prevention
    Institution – University of Kentucky

    Rates of sexual violence and dating violence are high among college students. Binge drinking also commonly occurs in undergraduate populations and may be related to violence victimization and perpetration. This study will implement different levels of bystander-based prevention programming at the University of Kentucky to better understand bystander intervention approaches that may reduce not only sexual and dating violence behaviors but also reduce alcohol abuse. The cost-effectiveness of these approaches will also be studied.

CDC’s Approach to Dating, Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Prevention

Dating violence, intimate partner violence, and sexual violence are significant problems in the United States. These forms of violence can have lasting, harmful effects on victims and their family, friends, and communities. The goal of prevention is simple – stop it from happening in the first place. CDC supports programs and research to better understand violence and to develop and evaluate prevention programs and strategies.

Learn More About Prevention

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