Community-based Sociocultural Tailoring of IPV Prevention through peer-Educator Interactive Theater Performances and Audience Response Measurement

Despite the rapid population growth, research on IPV and socioculturally tailored prevention program for Asians in the U.S. are seriously limited. Thus, we propose to develop and evaluate an IPV prevention program for and by local community members using theater, audience response measurement, and peer educators (PEs). The specific aims are: 1) To develop and implement a theater-based IPV prevention program in collaboration with trained PEs; 2) To assess program effectiveness, e.g., changes in workshop participants’ knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior concerning IPV over time, and the role of performance engagement factors.

This community-based pilot research project was aimed at examining methods to develop, implement, and evaluate a socioculturally tailored intimate partner violence (IPV) prevention programs through peer-led, interactive theater performances. During the project, we recruited and trained approximately 30 peer educators of diverse sociocultural backgrounds. Those peer educators are members of various Asian communities in Metro Detroit who were interested in preventing intimate partner violence in their communities; about a half of them are youth. We worked with peer educators to create various skits that depict abusive and controlling behaviors of a partner in an intimate relationship, as well as behaviors of bystanders (e.g., family members and friends). The skits were created to be relevant to different types of audience, e.g., youth, adults, and health care providers. Using these skits, we developed and conducted a series of theater-based IPV prevention workshops . We tailored the skits and workshop contents to specific workshop participants; for example, based on the core scripts, we improvised some aspects of the script. Both adult and youth peer educators played an active role in identifying possible venues to conduct theater-based IPV prevention workshops. In collaboration with partnering community-based organizations, we organized IPV prevention workshops at various community venues. Peer educators served as actors in the theater presentation and facilitators to lead IPV prevention workshops . The behaviors of the bystanders depicted in the scripts that were created were left intentionally troubling. At the workshops, we used Forum Theater methods (Boal, 1979); after the performance of a skit by peer educators, workshop participants (audience) were invited to try out as bystanders various prevention strategies that they perceived fit their sociocultural context. We used audience response system (e.g., clickers) to obtain the audience reactions to various elements of the play. Specifically, we assessed the degree to which the audience identified with the story and characters depicted in the play and the perceived effectiveness of the audience’s intervention aimed at preventing IPV. In addition, at most prevention workshops, we administered pre- and post-surveys. Despite extensive efforts to recruit participants for the workshops, the number of participants at a given workshop was small. The characteristics of the participants vary considerably. The diversity of the participants is a strength as it speaks to the applicability of the interactive theater, peer educators, and audience response system in IPV prevention. However this diversity makes it more difficult to obtain a substantial sample size. After a series of attempts to conduct training with a larger number of participants, we refocused our research efforts. We moved to an emphasis on assessing the feasibility of use of interactive theater, peer educators and audience response system in the context of theater-based IPV prevention in a wide range of community settings and deemphasized our original specific aims to obtain and analyze quantitative data to assess program effectiveness in term of changes on knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior (KABBs).