Skip to main content

Table 3 Summary of Included Studies

From: Women’s experiences of safety apps for sexualized violence: a narrative scoping review

Author, Year Title Country Purpose Participants Research Method Sexualized Violence Focus Safety App Key Findings
[2] Development of the MyPlan safety decision app with friends of college women in abusive dating relationships United States To explore the perceptions of friends of dating violence survivors regarding the benefits of a safety decision aid, deployed through a smart phone application prototype, for friends of female survivors of dating violence. Thirty-one college students who self-reported having a friend who had experienced dating violence while in college. Participants were English-speaking male and female college students, aged 18-24 (Mage = 20.84). The majority of participants were female (n = 25) and the remainder were male. Most of the participants were White (n = 16), followed by African American (n = 8); the remaining participants were from a variety of ethno-racial identities. Qualitative - Focus groups/interview. Each of the focus group discussions lasted 60–90min and was cofacilitated by two trained research assistants. The individual in-depth interviews lasted approximately 60min. The procedures implemented were consistent across the focus groups and individual interviews. At the beginning of each focus group/interview, participants were instructed to progress through the app prototype preloaded onto an iPod touch. Participants also had access to the app throughout the focus group/interview. The emphasis of the interviews was on the friend’s assessment of the app. The audio-taped interviews were digitally recorded and then transcribed. Dating violence (DV) MyPlan – a prototype smart phone application (app) that is a safety decision aid designed to assist college women (age 18–24) experiencing dating violence/survivors of dating violence and their friends who wish to learn more about how to help them. A collaborative, multistate research team partnered with the One Love Foundation, a national relationship violence prevention advocacy organization, to develop the app. Three themes were directly related to participants’ perceptions of the benefit of MyPlan in helping themselves as well as their friends in addressing DV: usefulness, understandability, and appropriateness. The findings support the acceptability and usefulness of an app to support peers of DV survivors on campus and thereby also strengthen the safety net for DV survivors.
[10] Enlisting friends to reduce sexual victimization risk: There's an app for that... but nobody uses it United States To collect feasibility and acceptability information on the Co6 app among college women who drink alcohol, a group at greater risk for sexualized violence, to shed light on the Co6 app and the challenges associated with app-based prevention in real-world contexts. Forty-four college women. Women had to 18–24 years of age (Mage = 20.11, SD = 1.33), be enrolled in college, own a smart phone, and drink alcohol at least once per week in the last 6 months. A majority of participants were White (n = 23), followed by African American (n = 7), Asian (n = 6), Hispanic (n = 3), and other (n = 5). Almost all of the participants identified as heterosexual (n = 41) Mixed Methods – Participants completed questionnaires, used the Co6 app for 2 months, and returned to report their experiences. For the qualitative component, participants were interviewed individually in a semi-structured format about what they liked and did not like about the app. Follow up interviews were approximately 1 hour long and were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Sexual victimization Circle of Six (Co6 app) - centralizes both personal and community resources to reduce SV risk. Specifically, the app calls for users to program the con tact information of six trusted individuals, who are then identified as part of the user’s safety network (i.e., circle of six). Findings were separated by what participants liked and what participants disliked. Themes related to what participants liked included that the app provided easy connection with friends, the app features, and believed the app was good in theory. Themes related to what participants disliked included that they thought the app was unnecessary, they were uncomfortable with group messaging, and there were limited contexts for use. Overall, the app may not meet the real-world needs of college women.
[11] Developing an App for College Women in Abusive Same-Sex Relationships and Their Friends United States To establish initial content validity, feasibility, appropriateness, understandability, and usability of a smartphone-based safety decision aid app for college women in same-sex relationships and their friends. Thirteen participants participated in interviews. These included eight college students (four female survivors, three female friends, and one male friend), five of whom were White and three African American, with a mean age 22.0 years, SD 1.9. Five college staff who worked directly with LGBT survivors on campus also participated (four female, one male; all White, mean age 28.2, SD 3.6) in the study. Qualitative - Interviews using a semi-structured interview guide with questions regarding understandability, appropriateness, comprehensiveness, and usefulness of the app for women in same-sex relationships and their friends. Interviews were audio-recorded. Same-sex dating violence An interactive, personalized safety decision aid smartphone application (app) developed by a collaborative, multistate team. The app was intended to allow abused college-aged women and their friends to privately and safely assess violence severity in an abusive relationship, clarify their areas of decisional conflict, (e.g., advantages/disadvantages of the relation- ship) and identify their safety priorities and link to national resources (e.g., national hotline). Findings focused on barriers to recognizing abuse and accessing help (three themes emerged: isolation, lack of awareness of abuse/violence and resources for support, and fear of or actual experiences of discrimination); and feasibility of an app-based safety planning resource (three themes emerged: appropriateness and inclusivity of app content for same-sex survivors and friends, appropriateness and acceptability of a smartphone-based approach for same-sex survivors and friends, and potential safety issues with the app). Overall, findings support the use of the app to assist college women experiencing same-sex dating violence and peers to connect with resources and develop tailored safety plans to reduce violence and increase their safety.
[32] Usability testing of a mobile health intervention to address acute care needs after sexual assault United States To test the usability of a mobile health intervention targeting alcohol and drug misuse, suicide prevention, posttraumatic stress symptoms, coping skills, and referral to formal assistance for individuals who have experienced sexual assault. Thirteen participants (Mage = 28.00) who experienced sexual assault and received a sexual assault medical forensic examination. Most participants identified as white (n = 13), female (n = 11), and were single (n = 7). One person identified as male and another as “other”. Approximately two-thirds of participants were not in college (n = 10) and had medical insurance (n = 10). The average length of time since the sexual assault was 12.09 months. The assaults were perpetrated by an acquaintance (n = 7), stranger (n = 5), and partner (n = 1). Mixed Methods- The qualitative component consisted of individual interviews that were conducted in-person or through teleconferencing, according to participant preference, and lasted 45 to 60 minutes. Sexual Assault SC-Safe - a resource designed for individuals over the age of 18 residing in South Carolina who have experienced sexual assault. It was designed by the first and second authors to address a gap in clinical services after recent sexual assault. Core themes included aesthetics and usability (app is simple and not overwhelming, layout allows for privacy, increase colour brightness and font size, make navigation functions clear and uniform across app); barriers to resources (logistical barriers, attitudinal barriers); and opinions about SC-Safe (education module was informative and helpful, feedback on emotion and behavioural health module, feedback on general coping skills). Overall, participants found the app to be user friendly and liked it more than they disliked it.
[44] Survivor feedback on a safety decision aid smartphone application for college-age women in abusive relationships United States For young women who had previously experienced dating violence to evaluate a mobile phone application safety decision aid prototype, which was designed for use by college-age women experiencing dating violence. Thirty-four English-speaking female college students, ages 18–25 (Mage = 21.26, SD = 1.86), who reported that they experienced dating violence while in college. Self-identified ethno-racial background were 52.6% White, 23.7% Hispanic, 7.9% African America, 13.2% Multiracial, and 2.6% other. Nearly 16% of participants reported being in a previous relationship with an abusive female partner. Qualitative- Ten focus group (ranging from 2 to 7 participants) discussions, each lasting approximately 90 min, were cofacilitated by two trained research assistants in a campus or community location. Individual interviews took place in a setting of the participant’s choosing, were approximately 60 min, and were conducted by one trained research assistant. Procedures were consistent across the focus group sessions and individual interviews and a semi-structured interview guide was utilized. Dating Violence/Intimate Partner Violence A prototype smart phone application (app) that is a safety decision aid designed to assist college women (age 18–24) experiencing dating violence/survivors of dating violence and their friends who wish to learn more about how to help them. A collaborative, multistate research team partnered with the One Love Foundation, a national relationship violence prevention advocacy organization, to develop the app. Participants reviewed and provided feedback on the app and four themes emerged: usefulness, understandability, appropriateness, and comprehensiveness of the app. Participants were positive about the potential of the app to provide personalized information about abusive dating relationships and appropriate resources in a private, safe, and nonjudgmental manner. Participants also provided recommendations for further development of the app.
Ragavan et al. [52] Thrive: A Novel Health Education Mobile Application for Mothers Who Have Experienced Intimate Partner Violence United States Describe the development and formative evaluation of a trauma-informed, user-friendly Smartphone- based mobile application to address the unmet health needs and improve the well-being of mothers who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV). Eight IPV survivors and 16 hospital-based staff (nine health care providers, four social workers, one mental health provider, and three IPV advocates; hereafter called providers). Formative Evaluation - Participants were instructed to use Thrive on a study Smartphone for 10 to 20 minutes and then provide feedback about its content, design, safety features, and applicability via a structured interview. Intimate Partner Violence Thrive - a trauma-informed, user-friendly Smartphone based mobile application (app) to address the unmet health needs and improve the well-being of mothers who have experienced IPV. A multidisciplinary team of IPV experts developed the app in partnership with software developers. Participants found Thrive to be user-friendly, informative, trauma- informed, and easier and more relevant than other forms of health education. Participants had several recommendations including making the app more interactive and personalized by allowing users to add their own content, having a password to increase security, and providing social support mechanisms. Initial feedback sessions have demonstrated preliminary acceptability of the app.
Tarzia et al., 2017 “Technology Doesn’t Judge You”: Young Australian Women’s Views on Using the Internet and Smartphones to Address Intimate Partner Violence Australia To confirm the hypothesis that technology has a potential role in responding to IPV, and to ascertain what factors might encourage or discourage women from using an IPV website or app. Nineteen women between 20 and 25 years of age. All participants were residing in Victoria, Australia at the time of the study, and all had self-reported experiencing fear of a partner in the previous 6 months. None of the women were married at the time of participation, and most were tertiary educated. Qualitative- Four focus groups were held at The University of Melbourne between April and August 2014. The sessions were informal and semi structured in nature, and facilitated by a trained researcher. An additional note taker was present but did not take part in the conversation. The discussions lasted approximately 60 min each and were audio recorded and later transcribed verbatim by members of the research team. Intimate Partner Violence Not specified – general exploration of safety apps Young women’s views around responding to IPV using web-based applications can be grouped into three main themes: behavioral beliefs and attitudes (it’s easier than telling someone, it’s not “normal” to be in an abusive relationship, an app can raise awareness, an app should do more than provide information, an app needs to strike a balance); normative beliefs and subjective norms (for young people technology is a way of life, it needs to be endorsed by someone who counts); and control beliefs and perceived behavioral control (access anywhere/anytime, protecting safety and privacy). Findings highlight the potential for technological interventions to become a valuable addition to the resources available to young women.