Effective & Promising Programs A Systematic Review of Primary Prevention Strategies for Sexual Violence Prevention

The most current and thorough research review, A Systematic Review of Primary Prevention Strategies for Sexual Violence Prevention (DeGue, et al., 2014), was recently released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors examined 140 studies of primary prevention strategies that met certain criteria. Some of these include rigorous evaluation, being published between 1985 and 2012, and being focused on primary prevention of perpetration (studies examining risk reduction, preventing recidivism, or focused on victimization were not included).

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center produced a helpful and quick "research translation" of the DeGue et al. article.

Effective Programs

  • Safe Dates
  • Shifting Boundaries
  • Real Consent**

Promising Programs

  • Coaching Boys into Men
  • Brining in the Bystander
  • Green Dot**
  • Second Step**

** These programs were not included in the CDC's 2014 publication but have since had findings published and been deemed an effective or promising program. Please refer to the CDC's Sexual Violence: Prevention Strategies page for the most current lists.

Effective Program Structure

One of the standout observations from this research endeavor is that sufficient dosage is a key element of effective primary prevention.

  • Specifically, one hour programs with college students represented more than half of the included studies and none of these were shown to have lasting effects.
  • The strategies with positive effects were on average two to three times longer than those with mixed or negative effects.

Future Research Priorities

  • We have a limited pool of studies and strategies that are truly effective. Much more research is needed.
    • Approximately a quarter of reviewed strategies either had no effect (null) or potentially negative effects.
    • Approximately 40% of reviewed strategies had mixed positive and null effects.
  • More investment in evaluating primary prevention strategies that follow best practice guidance is needed.
    • The bulk of the strategies reviewed were short-term programs that focused solely on changing knowledge or attitudes. None of these have shown evidence of changing sexually violent behaviors.