2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Developing an Internet-Based Decision Aid Prototype to Assist Student Survivors of Sexual Assault at Colleges and Universities

photo of woman's face against binary code backdrop

Can an online decision aid better help sexual assault survivors get support?

Michelle Villegas-Gold, a global health doctoral candidate in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, will defend her dissertation, "Developing a Prototype of an Internet-based Decision Aid to Assist Student Survivors of Sexual Assault at Colleges and Universities with Making Informed Choices about Care-seeking and Justice in Real-time." Her committee members are Professor Ana Magdalena Hurtado, Associate Professor Monica Gaughan and Associate Professor Alesha Durfee.


Sexual assault at colleges and universities in the United States is a significant health and human rights issue that impacts somewhere between one-in-four and one-in-five students. Despite the alarmingly high burden, overall rates of disclosing to crisis, health and victim services, as well as reporting to schools and law enforcement, remain low. In order to buffer students from associated short- and long-term harm and help them reestablish safety and pursue justice, empirically-supported, innovative and trauma-informed secondary prevention strategies are needed.

To address this pressing issue, the current study used a trauma-informed, feminist community research approach to develop and design a prototype of an internet-based decision aid specifically tailored to assist students at Arizona State University who experience sexual assault with making informed choices about reporting and seeking care, advocacy, and support on- and off-campus. Results from preliminary alpha testing of the tool showed that: 1) it is feasible to adapt decision aids for use with the target population, and 2) while aspects of the tool can be improved during the next phases of redrafting and redesign, overall members of the target population find it to be acceptable, comprehensible and usable.