In Aim 1, we conducted analyses among 2,305 first-year UM students. Participants were 55.1% female, 70.7% White, and 90.6% heterosexual. The 1.5-hour Relationship Remix program was delivered in September–November, 2015. Students completed web-based surveys immediately before and after attending the program. On 8 of 10 survey items assessing program-related knowledge and attitudes, students reported significantly more favorable responses at post-test. For example, students reported greater awareness of campus resources, ability to define consent, and confidence in communicating with partners.
In Aim 2, a total of 35 participants completed a mixed-gender focus group (n=5), all-female focus group (n=5), all-male focus group (n=6), in-person interview (n=8), or phone interview (n=11). Sample demographics resembled characteristics of the Fall 2015 freshman class (e.g., 48.6% male; ~ 60% of White, Non-Hispanic race/ethnicity).3 All data has been transcribed and checked for accuracy. Key themes were coded independently by two raters using NVivo 11. Findings demonstrate that, as part of prevention programming, UM students welcome and desire opportunities to openly and seriously discuss sexual assault. Specifically, students envision a new program providing a safe space for questions and processing situations they have seen or heard about on campus. These discussions should be in-person, in small, mixed-gender groups or one-on-one, and may be led by a relatable peer who understands campus life. Including survivor testimonies was mentioned as one way to enhance program engagement.
Immediately after receiving Relationship Remix during their first semester of college, students demonstrated favorable changes in attitudes and knowledge areas that were targeted by the program (e.g., values-based decision making, knowing how to ask for consent, relationship communication skills), supporting the initial efficacy of this program. The largest shift was seen with regard to awareness of campus resources; a hard copy list of these resources was provided to students by the program facilitators. Relationship Remix appears to hold promise as one element of a multi-component campus prevention strategy, which may work in tandem with other prevention strategies to produce changes in attitudes that could impact future behaviors related to promoting healthy relationships and preventing sexual assault.
As part of their sexual assault prevention programming, students welcome and desire opportunities to openly and seriously discuss the issue of sexual assault. These discussions could be in small, mixed-gender groups or one-on-one, and could be led by a relatable peer who understands the dynamics of campus life. There is a need for future work to develop and examine whether discussion-oriented prevention programming – perhaps in tandem with complementary evidence-based prevention approaches – could be an effective means of changing the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of college undergraduates regarding sexual assault. The students in our sample did not perceive UM to notably differ from other college campuses with regards to the social life, culture around sex, or identified risk factors for sexual assault, enhancing the potential generalizability of these findings beyond UM to other campuses.
In light of the alarming prevalence of campus sexual assault and its significant burden on affected individuals and society more broadly, effective primary prevention programs can dramatically reduce the incidence of this avoidable and costly public health problem. Our initial evaluation of Relationship Remix provides critical data for larger-scale efficacy testing of this psychoeducational prevention programs in college settings. Furthermore, the program format described by undergraduates in Aim 2 starkly contrasts the format of many existing campus sexual assault prevention programs, which are either administered online, incorporate humor, or indirectly touch on the issue of sexual assault. Future work is needed to develop and examine whether in-person, discussion-based primary prevention programs could lead to sustained decreases in sexual assault perpetration and victimization rates on college campuses.