Abstract: Exposure to Campus Messages about Interpersonal Violence: A Latent Class Analysis (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Exposure to Campus Messages about Interpersonal Violence: A Latent Class Analysis

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Julia O'Connor, PhD, MSW, MPH, Assistant Professor; Violence Against Women Cluster Member, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
Julia Cusano, MSW, Phd Candidate and Graduate Assistant, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Jill Hoxmeier, PhD, Associate Professor, Central Washington University, WA
Purpose: This study investigated students’ exposure to messages about campus dating and sexual violence in order to discover classes of students based on message source. Several demographic variables were included in the analysis to understand students’ class membership in relation to pertinent student demographic factors.

Methods: Latent class analysis was performed with data assessing 5,284 students’ exposure to 16 different sources of information regarding interpersonal violence, from having a professor discuss these topics to participating in related campus events. Based on fit statistics, the best model indicated that there are five classes of students based on their exposure to messages. The following demographics were examined as covariates of class membership: athletic, fraternity/sorority, and/or student organization membership, undergraduate status, sexual orientation, gender, online course participation, and receipt of prevention information about interpersonal violence before college.

Results: Class 1, called Low Exposure, consisted of 9% of the sample, and students in this class had low exposure to messages about interpersonal violence across all sources. Class 2, Passive Exposure, comprised 37% of the sample, and included students with high exposure to messages delivered passively (e.g., posters). Class 3, Exploratory Exposure, which included 34% of the sample, had high exposure to many sources of information but moderate exposure to sources that involved active modes (e.g., attended an event on campus). Class 4, High Exposure, 9% of the sample, was high in exposure across all sources. Finally, Class 5, Non-Institutional Exposure, 11% of the sample, had low exposure to messages associated with the institution (e.g., heard campus staff talk about the issues).

Members of fraternities/sororities and/or a student organization, non-straight students, and female students, were more likely to be in classes with higher levels of exposure across sources (Classes 3 and 4). Membership in Class 2, Passive Exposure, was greater for those in student organizations and women. Membership in Class 5, Non-Institutional Exposure, was greater for students who took at least half their classes online, women, non-straight students, and graduate students. Those who had received information about interpersonal violence prior to joining the university were least likely to be in Class 1, Low Exposure. Finally, student athlete status was not significantly associated with class membership.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that students fall into classes based on their exposure to messages about interpersonal violence. Additionally, some subgroups of students have high exposure to various sources of messages about interpersonal violence while other students have low exposure. Still, other subgroups are primarily exposed to messages through passive or non-institutional sources of information. Subgroups of students, based on their exposure to on-campus interpersonal violence messaging, also differ regarding demographic makeup.

Implications: These implications from these results include the need to tailor interpersonal violence programming on campus to subgroups of students based on their varying baseline levels of message exposure. Finally, as students are exposed to messaging through differing sources, including passive and non-institutional, social workers and other campus officials can use this information when designing outreach efforts to better fit with the needs of various subgroups of students.