Implementation and Evaluation of an App to Provide Help-Seeking Options for Victims of Violence

Saturday, 28 October 2017: 2:35 PM

Jocelyn Anderson, PhD, RN, FNE-A, SANE-A
School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Erin Pollitt, MHA, BSN
District of Columbia Forensic Nurse Examiners, Washington, DC, USA
Jessica Draughon Moret, PhD
Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, UC Davis, Sacramento, CA, USA

Background:One out of every two college women report experiencing at least one type of violent and/or abusive behavior including physical and sexual violence, psychological abuse, stalking (including cyber stalking) and other harassing and controlling behavior in a dating relationship. Of those who choose to disclose their experience, the vast majority of victims seek help from informal sources of support, as opposed to the healthcare or legal systems In fact, only 3% of students who reported sexual assault at a local university made any type of formal report (university, hospital or police report). In 2013 the local forensic nursing program developed a smartphone application, that included information on local help seeking options for medical care, criminal justice reporting and advocacy services.

Objective: The purpose of this project was to evaluate the content, appropriateness, understandability and usability of the smartphone app among a sample of college students

Methods: An online survey using the Qualtrics platform was designed to illicit feedback regarding the app from college students. Participants were recruited via in person events at local college, university and community events, as well as online via social media. Descriptive and comparative analysis was completed using SPSS Version 23.

Findings: In total, 49 college students completed survey measures. The majority were female (n=41, 83.7%), white (n=34, 69.4%) and non-Hispanic (n=41, 83.7%). Age ranged from 18-29, with a median age of 22. Approximately half of participants attended 4 year colleges or universities (n=26, 53.1%) while the other 46.9% attended a 2 year college or trade school. Participants rated the app highly (>4 on a 5 point scale) on ease of use, design and understandability. They rated the overall relevance of the app slightly lower (3.91). Of the specific content sections, participants rated the usefulness of the section titled, “What if I have been forced to have sex” the lowest (3.98) and “What if I am concerned about a friend” the highest (4.18). Embedded resources in the app included local and national hotline numbers, all of which were rated more highly than specific content sections related to having experienced physical or sexual violence. Differences were noted in usefulness ratings between males and female students with female students rating certain resources as more useful than their male counterparts. A similar trend was noted with students at 2-year institutions rating certain resources (GPS directions to the hospital, Medical and STI care) more highly than students at 4-year institutions.

Implications: Our findings are consistent with research showing the potential usefulness of a smartphone app for sharing health related information, however they also highlight the challenge of engaging college students in efforts to prevent and respond to dating and sexual violence. Despite growing policy and media attention, students rated the relevance of sexual violence information to themselves and their peers less high than they rated the individual content aspects of the app.