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Development and Pilot Trial of an Intervention to Reduce Disclosure Recipients Negative Social Reactions and Victims Psychological Distress and Problem Drinking

Research Team

Principal Investigator: Katie M. Edwards

Funding Information

Funding Agency: National Institutes of Health-National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Award Date: Sep 6, 2019

End Date: Aug 31, 2021


Intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual assault (SA) are public health issues among college students that can lead to problem drinking and related deleterious outcomes (e.g., depression). A robust predictor of undesirable victim outcomes is negative social reactions to disclosure (e.g., disbelieving the victim). To date, however, there is no intervention that specifically targets potential recipients of IPV and SA disclosure to inform them of the best methods for responding to an IPV or SA disclosure.


This study aims to test an intervention — Supporting Survivors and Self — created for potential informal support disclosure recipients. The SSS intervention provides individuals with information about why positive social reactions are important and why negative social reactions can be harmful, examples of what to say and not to say, opportunities for role-play and an emphasis on the importance of self-care.


The study’s goal is to further develop and manualize the SSS intervention, and to conduct a rigorous pilot examination of the effects of SSS intervention.


College students were chosen as the targeted population given the high rates of IPV, SA and problem drinking among this population. Young adults from a medium-sized New England university will be:

  • randomly selected from the college population,
  • invited to participate in baseline surveys,
  • randomly assigned to participate in the SSS intervention or a wait-list control group, and
  • asked to complete a six-month follow-up survey.


Participants who report at the six-month follow-up that they were the recipient of an IPV or SA disclosure will be asked to invite the victim who disclosed to them to participate in the research; victims who agree to participate will be asked to complete surveys. Analyses will determine if exposure to the SSS intervention compared to the control condition leads to increases in positive social reactions and decreases in negative social reactions in disclosure recipients, and reductions in problem drinking and related deleterious outcomes (e.g., depression) in victims. 

Psychosocial Development & Social-Emotional Learning