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An Evaluation of Victim Centered, Trauma Informed Interview Training for Sexual Assault Investigators using Standardized Patient Actors: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $335,131)

The applicant proposes a study to examine the effectiveness of trauma-informed interview training coupled with an established healthcare training method "standardized patient training" on improving law enforcement investigators' performance in interviews with sexual assault victims. In the healthcare field, standardized patient training programs use actors to portray patients by simulating real symptoms and problems. This training exercise has proven successful for improving nursing and medical students' performance in simulated encounters with patients. Specifically, standardized patient training participants have been found to show more empathy toward patients, deliver negative prognoses in a more compassionate manner, and provide more detail regarding patient care options. The proposed study will use a randomized controlled trial involving approximately 160 to 320 police investigators with varying levels of investigative experience with sexual assault victims. Investigators will participate in a 40-hour training program focused on improving responses to survivors of sexual assault by exposing participants to victim-centered trauma-informed interview techniques. A portion of the training will use standardized patients to portray survivors of sexual victimization in simulated interviews with program participants. Simulated interviews will be video and audio recorded. The control group (N~80 to 160 investigators) will participate in simulated interviews before training, while the experimental group (N~80 to 160 investigators) will participate in simulated interviews after receiving training. Indicators of rape myth acceptance, perceptions of victims, knowledge of laws and victim-centered/trauma-informed interview practices, and personality traits (e.g., self-control) will be assessed pre- and post intervention. All measures will be collected pre-intervention, post-intervention, and four months after training is received. Additionally, the applicant will code recordings of interviews to assess any differences in interview performance (e.g., use of victim-centered, trauma informed techniques) between the control and experimental groups.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14).


Date Created: September 5, 2018