There’s an App for that? Assessing the Efficacy of Sexual Violence Mobile Apps on Reducing Victimization, Increasing Feelings of Safety and Support, and Improving Mental Health of College Students
Date of Completion
Sexual Violence, mHealth, Mobile Apps, Revelation Risk Model, Mental Health
Field of Study
Doctor of Philosophy
Sexual violence, including street harassment, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape, is a ubiquitous problem, particularly for college-aged women, with wide-reaching effects, such as increased anxiety, depression, stress, self-blame, guilt, and poorer sleep quality and lower self- esteem. Although there are federally-mandated sexual violence prevention efforts on college campuses, they are generally ineffective, thus, a new approach is needed to address this issue. One such approach is through the use of mobile applications. Studies have shown that there are over 200 sexual violence-related mobile apps currently on the market, but that the majority of them fall short when it comes to preventing sexual violence and reducing its harmful effects. The present study tested the efficacy of two sexual violence mobile apps (Circle of 6 and Hollaback!) on interpersonal (e.g., social support, communication efficacy, risk assessment, disclosure, etc.) and health outcomes (e.g., anxiety, depression, stress) using an experimental design and undergraduate participants. The Revelation Risk Model (RRM) was also applied in the new context of mobile apps and sexual violence. Results revealed: 1) no significant differences for either app use condition compared to the control condition on any of the outcome variables; 2) partial support for the RRM in the sexual violence context, with two of the risk protection motives (self and relationship) predicted willingness to disclose experiences with sexual violence and communication efficacy regarding sexual violence, but not discussion of sexual violence in general; and 3) significant associations between many of the outcome variables at Time 1, such as rape myth acceptance and attitudes toward establishing consent, suggesting that there are important relationships beyond app use that should be further explored. These findings can inform development of future interventions aimed at reducing the harmful effects of sexual violence, whether it be technology-based in the form of mobile apps or interpersonal-based in the form of promoting the discussion and destigmatization of sensitive issues such as sexual violence in order to increase disclosure and improve the health and wellbeing of individuals’ interpersonal relationships, not just for victims, but for everyone.
DelGreco, Maria, "There’s an App for that? Assessing the Efficacy of Sexual Violence Mobile Apps on Reducing Victimization, Increasing Feelings of Safety and Support, and Improving Mental Health of College Students" (2020). Doctoral Dissertations. 2612.