Methods: The sample for this study came from collected data of college students at seven universities in the U.S. and Canada through a cross- sectional survey in 2016 (N=4,607). The dependent variable, online counseling perception, was defined by three items that asked about openness and likelihood to use OC. The independent variables included IPV victimization, type of abuse, age, gender, race/ethnicity, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) identity, family income, physical and mental health status, and depression. Two linear regressions were conducted using SPSS: first with the entire sample of college students to examine characteristics of those more open to OC and second with only those that identified as experiencing IPV (n=1,218) to see if characteristics of openness to OC varied compared to all college students. Interactions were explored with variables that had significant results in both of the models.
Results: The results demonstrated those that are not victims of IPV are more likely to be open to OC (β=-.232, p<.001). Also for the model with all college students those with significantly favorable perceptions of OC were female (β=-.397, p<.001), identified as LGBT (β=.249, p<.001) or Asian/Pacific Islander (API) (β=.254, p<.001), and had a physical health issue (β=-.214, p<.001). For the model that only analyzed those that identified as experiencing IPV the same characteristics were shown to be significantly related to positive perceptions of OC. There were no significant interaction effects.
Conclusions and Implications: Findings indicate that college students who have experienced IPV are less likely to perceive OC as a favorable option. This may indicate that OC is not an appropriate way to overcome barriers for this population or that it needs to be restructured to fit the specific needs of IPV survivors. More research is needed to explore why this group does not perceive OC favorably and what could be done to increase openness. Further exploring why characteristics of female gender, LGBT, API and physical health issues lead to openness to OC could help understand what barriers need to be addressed for wider acceptance. Targeted online interventions for female, LGBT, and API students may be a better use of resources since they have already indicated openness to OC.