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One-Time Presentations

Single session educational programs are not prevention.

One time only presentations done well will produce short-term gains in knowledge, but do little or nothing to change behavior. Research consistently shows that the best result single education sessions can produce is change in an individual's knowledge base. Changing behavior requires a sufficient dosage. This is true for all types of prevention, not just preventing sexual violence. Sufficient dosage means that in order to change a behavior, education must be provided in a way in which the message is relevant, that people are exposed to message repeatedly and that they have opportunity to practice or incorporate the message.

Sufficient dosage, as defined in research studies, is

the need for participants to be exposed to enough of the [prevention initiative] for it to have an effect. Dosage, or program intensity, may be measured in quantity and quality of contact hours. Aspects of dosage include the session length, number of sessions, spacing of sessions, and the duration of the total program. Length of message exposure, frequency and number of exposures, and the duration of this frequency are key considerations in determining the amount of dosage exhibited by a given prevention initiative.

-Applying the Principles of Prevention: What Do Prevention Practitioners Need to Know About What Works? May 2005

A single session can be part of your intervention strategy to make sure agencies and individuals are aware of your agency, philosophy and services. Single sessions have value and offer an excellent starting point for system coordination efforts.

Best Available Evidence

Recently the National Sexual Violence Resource Center published a research translation of a systematic review of prevention strategies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the research it was supported that none of the one-hour programs showed any evidence for prevention:

"One-hour educational programs in college aren't enough. Sixty percent of the studies evaluated one-session programs with college students. None of these have shown lasting effects on sexual violence risk factors or behavior."

- Key Findings From "A Systematic review of primary prevention strategies for sexual violence perpetration" written by Sarah DeGue et al; 2014

Want More?

Check out the article in the Summer 2008 issue of Moving Upstream, the primary prevention newsletter from the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance.

Reviewed: March 23rd, 2016