ISSN: 2162-9161
Place holder

Participant Reactions to Questions about Gender-Based Sexual Violence: Implications for Campus Climate Surveys

Jennifer M. Gómez, Carly P. Smith, Marina N. Rosenthal, Jennifer J. Freyd

Abstract


Gender-based sexual violence (GBSV) on college campuses has recently gained national attention in the United States.  In April 2014, the White House recommended that institutions of higher education conduct campus climate surveys to assess GBSV; however, despite decades of research on this topic, concerns continue to be raised about the safety of asking participants about prior victimization. Do college students experience harm from participating in campus climate surveys? This article examines findings and implications of a recent study using data from a recent campus climate survey that was designed to assess students’ reactions to participation and that was administered among undergraduates at a large public university.  The survey questions were based on risk-benefit concepts at the heart of institutional review board deliberations: (1) Do GBSV-related questions cause distress?; (2) Are GBSV-related questions rated as important?; (3) Is asking about violence perceived as a good idea? The majority of students indicated that they did not find the survey more distressing than day-to-day life experiences, they evaluated the questions about sexual violence as important, and they indicated that, taking into account both risks and benefits, asking about sexual violence is a good idea. Race did not impact participants’ reactions, while female gender affected slightly higher distress, and GBSV history impacted slightly more distress and greater perceived importance of the study; however, the practical significance of these small differences remains uncertain.  Collectively, the study’s findings can inform nationwide efforts in addressing GBSV on college campuses. The authors discuss limitations of the study and conclude with a consideration of directions for future research.

Keywords


survivors; Association for American Universities; ethnic minority; distress; history of trauma; institutional betrayal; intervention; Madison Summit for Campus Climate and Sexual Misconduct; Violence Against Women Act; trauma research; student reactions

References


Ahrens, C. E. (2006). Being silenced: The impact of negative social reactions on the disclosure of rape. American Journal of Community Psychology, 38, 263-274. doi:10.1007/s10464-006-9069-9

Allard, C., et al. (2014). Open letter from scientists to the Association of American Universities. Retrieved from http://dynamic.uoregon.edu/scientists/Scientists%20to%20AAU%

Member%20Presidents%203%20December%202014.pdf

Becker­Blease, K., & Freyd, J. (2006). Research participants telling the truth about their lives: The ethics of asking and not asking about abuse. American Psychologist, 61, 218­226.

Becker-Blease, K., & Freyd, J. J. (2007). The ethics of asking about abuse and the harm of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” American Psychologist, 62, 330-332. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.62.4.330

Becker-Blease, K., Freyd, J. J., Russo, N. F., & Rich-Edwards, J. (2012, May). The cost of not asking about abuse: Empirical evidence. Paper presented as part of the symposium, “Costs and Benefits of Trauma Research: Implications for Institutional Review Boards” at the 2012 Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention, Chicago, IL.

Black, M., & Black, R. (2007). A public health perspective on “The ethics of asking and not asking about abuse.” American Psychologist, 62, 328­239.

Black, M., Kresnow, M., Arias, T., Simon, I., & Shelley, G. (2006). Telephone survey respondents’ reactions to questions regarding interpersonal violence. Violence and Victims, 21, 443­459.

Burstow, B. (2003). Toward a radical understanding of trauma and trauma work. Violence Against Women, 9, 1293-1317.

Carlson, E. B., Newman, E., Daniels, J. W., Armstrong, J., Roth, D., & Loewenstein, R. (2003). Distress in response to and perceived usefulness of trauma research interviews. Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 4, 131-142.

Carter-Visscher, R. M., Naugle, A. E., Bell, K. M., & Suvak, M. K. (2007). Ethics of asking trauma-related questions and exposing participants to arousal-inducing stimuli. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 8, 27-55.

Cook, S. L., Darnell, D., Anthony, E. R., Tusher, C. P., Zimmerman, L., Enkhtor, D., & Hipp, T. N. (2011). Investigating the effects of trauma-related research on well-being. Accountability in Research, 18, 297-322.

Cook, S. L., Swartout, K. M., Goodnight, B. L., Hipp, T. N., & Bellis, A. L. (2015). Impact of violence research on participants over time: Helpful, harmful, or neither? Psychology of Violence, 5, 314-324. doi:10.1037/a0038442

Cromer, L., Freyd, J. J., Binder, A. K., DePrince, A. P., & Becker­ Blease, K. (2006). What’s the risk in asking? Participant reaction to trauma history questions compared with reaction to other personal questions. Ethics & Behavior, 16, 347-363.

Dalenberg, C. (2013). Trauma research and the institutional review board, executive committee, Division 56, June 15, 2013. Trauma Psychology Newsletter: An Official Publication of Division 56 of the American Psychological Association, fall issue, 43-49.

DePrince, A. P., & Chu, A. (2008). Perceived benefits in trauma research: Examining methodological and individual difference factors in responses to research participation. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 3, 35-47.

DePrince, A. P. & Freyd, J. J. (2006). Costs and benefits of being asked about trauma history. Journal of Trauma Practice, 4(3), 23-35.

Dyregrov, K., Dyregrov, A., & Raudalen, M. (2000). Refugee families’ experience of research participation. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 13, 413­426.

Edwards, K. M., Probst, D. R., Tansill, E. C., & Gidycz, C. A. (2013). Women’s reactions to interpersonal violence research: A longitudinal study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 28, 254-272. doi:10.1177/0886260512454721

Edwards, K. M., Sylaska, K. M., & Gidycz, C. A. (2014). Women’s reactions to participating in dating violence research: A mixed methodological study. Psychology of Violence, 4, 224-239. doi:10.1037/a0034339

Edwards, V., Dube, S., Felitti, V., & Anda, R. (2007). It’s ok to ask about past abuse. American Psychologist, 62, 327­328.

Ferrier-Auerbach, A. G., Erbes, C. R., & Polusny, M. A. (2009). Does trauma survey research cause more distress than other types of survey research? Journal of Traumatic Stress, 22, 320-323. doi:10.1002/jts.20416

Fisher, B. S. (2009). The effects of survey question wording on rape estimates evidence from a quasi-experimental design. Violence Against Women, 15, 133-147.

Fontes, L. A. (2004). Ethics in violence against women research: The sensitive, the dangerous, and the overlooked. Ethics & Behavior, 14, 141-174. doi:10.1207/s15327019eb1402_4

Freyd, J. J. (2013). Preventing betrayal [Editorial]. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 14, 495-500.

Freyd, J. J. (2014a, July 14). Official campus statistics for sexual violence mislead [Op-Ed]. Al Jazeera America.

Freyd, J. J. (2014b, November 9). Use science as tool on campus sexual assault [Op-Ed]. The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR), p. H4.

Freyd, J. J., Rosenthal, M. N., & Smith, C. P. (2014). The UO sexual violence and institutional behavior campus survey. Retrieved from http://dynamic.uoregon.edu/jjf/campus/UO 2014campussurveycontent.pdf

Galea, S., Nandi, A., Stuber, J., Gold, J., Acierno, R., Best, C., Bucuvalas, M., Rudenstine, S., Boscarino, J., & Resnick, H. (2005). Participant reactions to survey research in the general population after terrorist attacks. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 18, 461­465.

Gielen, A. C., O’Campo, P. J., Campbell, J. C., Schollenberger, J., Woods, A. B., Jones, A. S., …Wynne, E. C. (2000). Women’s opinions about domestic violence screening and mandatory reporting. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 19, 279-285.

Gleaves, D. H., Rucklidge, J. J., & Follette, V. M. (2007). What are we teaching our students by not asking about abuse? American Psychologist, 62, 326-327.

Gómez, J. M. (under review). Introducing cultural betrayal trauma theory: A critical review, a new approach.

Gómez, J. M., Becker-Blease, K., & Freyd, J. J. (2015). A brief report on predicting self-harm: Is it gender or abuse that matters? Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, & Trauma, 24(2), 203-214. doi:10.1080/10926771.2015.1002651

Griffin, M. G., Resick, P. A., Waldrop, A. E., & Mechanic, M. B. (2003). Participation in trauma research: Is there evidence of harm? Journal of Traumatic Stress, 16, 221-227.

Gross, A. M., Winslett, A., Roberts, M., & Gohm, C. L. (2006). An examination of sexual violence against college women. Violence Against Women, 12(3), 288-300.

Jaffe, A. E., DiLillo, D., Hoffman, L., Haikalis, M., & Dykstra, R. E. (2015). Does it hurt to ask? A meta-analysis of participant reactions to trauma research. Clinical Psychology Review, 40, 40-56. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2015.05.004

Jorm, A. F., Kelly, C. M., & Morgan, A. J. (2007). Participant distress in psychiatric research: A systematic review. Psychological Medicine, 37, 917-926.

King, L. A. (2001). The health benefits of writing about life goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 798-807. doi:10.1177/0146167201277003

Koss, M. P., Abbey, A., Campbell, R., Cook, S., Norris, J., Testa, M., … White, J. (2007). Revising the SES: A collaborative process to improve assessment of sexual aggression and victimization. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31, 357-370. doi:10.1111/j.1471 6402.2007.00385.x

Koss, M. P., Gidycz, C. A., & Wisniewski, N. (1987). The scope of rape: Incidence and prevalence of sexual aggression and victimization in a national sample of higher education students. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55(2), 162-170.

Madison Summit for Campus Climate and Sexual Misconduct (2015). Historic summit on sexual violence creates new scientific campus climate survey. Retrieved from http://dynamic.uoregon.edu/scientists/Madison%20Summit%20Press%20Release%

FOR%20RELEASE.pdf

Newman, E., & Kaloupek, D. G. (2004). The risks and benefits of participating in trauma-focused research studies. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 17, 383-394.

Newman, E., Walker, E. A., & Gefland, A. (1999). Assessing the ethical costs and benefits of trauma-focused research. General Hospital Psychiatry, 21, 187-196.

Obama, B. (2014, January 22). Memorandum: Establishing a White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/01/22/memorandum-establishing-white-house-task-force-protect-students-sexual-a

Páez, D., Velasco, C., & González, J. L. (1999). Expressive writing and the role of alexithymia as a dispositional deficit in self-disclosure and psychological health. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 630-641. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.77.3.630

Park, C. L., & Blumberg, C. J. (2002). Disclosing trauma through writing: Testing the meaning-making hypothesis. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 26, 597-616. doi:10.1023/A:1020353109229

Pennebaker, J. W., Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., & Glaser, R. (1988). Disclosure of traumas and immune function: Health implications for psychotherapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 239-245.

Petrie, K. J., Booth, R. J., Pennebaker, J. W., Davison, K. P., & Thomas, M. G. (1995). Disclosure of trauma and immune response to a hepatitis B vaccination program. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63, 787-792. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.63.5.787

Pope, K. S. (2015). Steps to strengthen ethics in organizations: Research findings, ethics placebos, and what works. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 16(2), 139-152.

Ruzek, J. I., & Zatzick, D. F. (2000). Ethical considerations in research participation among acutely injured trauma survivors: An empirical investigation. General Hospital Psychiatry, 22, 27-36.

Smith, C. P., & Freyd, J. J. (2013). Dangerous safe havens: Institutional betrayal exacerbates sexual trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26, 119-124. doi:10.1002/jts.21778

Smith, C.P. & Freyd, J.J. (2014). Institutional betrayal. American Psychologist, 69, 575-587.

Stratford, M. (2015). Declining the AAU survey. In Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/01/13/more-dozen-research-universities-opt-out-higher-education-groups-sexual-assault

Toiv, B. (2014). AAU announcements sexual assault climate survey. In Association of American Universities. Retrieved from http://aau.edu/news/article.aspx?id=15696

Ullman, S. E. (2007). Asking research participants about trauma and abuse. American Psychologist, 62, 329-330. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.62.4.329

Ullman, S. E., Karabatsos, G., & Koss, M. P. (1999). Alcohol and sexual assault in a national sample of college women. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 14(6), 603-625.

Walker, E. A., Newman, E., Koss, M., & Bernstein, D. (1997). Does the study of victimization revictimize the victims? General Hospital Psychiatry, 19, 403-410. doi:10. 1016/ S0163- 8343(97)

Yeater, E., Miller, G., Rinehart, J., & Nason, E. (2012). Trauma and sex surveys meet minimal risk standards: Implications for institutional review boards. Psychological Science, 23, 780­787.

White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault (2014, April). Not alone: The first report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/report_0.pdf


Full Text: PDF


DOI: 10.21768/ejopa.v4i2.75