U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Evaluating a Web-Based Crisis Hotline for Sexual Assault Victims: Decreasing Barriers, Increasing Help-Seeking, and Improving the Help-Seeking Experience

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $351,975)

While some studies suggest that web-based crisis hotlines for sexual assault victims may be a promising way to deliver services, there is little rigorous evaluation research that can be used to assess whether these on-line hotlines are successful in decreasing barriers to help-seeking, increasing help-seeking and reporting behavior, or improving the help- seeking experience.

The purpose of this project is to conduct a formative evaluation of a web-based crisis hotline for sexual assault victims on a large, Midwestern public university campus. The goals of this evaluation are to 1) describe in-depth the web-based hotline, including the theory of change and expected outcomes, 2) develop a logic model and implementation guide, and 3) develop and pilot test measures of implementation fidelity.

To describe the program, the research team will collect agency documents, observe program activities, and conduct in-depth stakeholder interviews. The research team will analyze these data using qualitative data analysis techniques, including coding, identifying themes, and triangulation. The results of this analysis will be used to engage stakeholders in a structured, collaborative process to develop a logic model and implementation guide. Next, the research team will engage program staff and stakeholders in developing measures of implementation fidelity, which will then be piloted to assess the feasibility and appropriateness of the measures for use in further evaluations.

The pilot test will include data from client satisfaction surveys and routine agency records from each chat session, ratings of implementation fidelity, and in-depth interviews with program staff to explore their experiences with implementing the program. Using quantitative and qualitative data analysis techniques, the research team will produce descriptive information about service user demographics and experiences with the program and summarize the results of the pilot test to a) reflect upon the degree to which the model is being facilitated with fidelity, b) identify opportunities to increase the fidelity of implementation in order to enhance effectiveness, and c) reflect upon the feasibility and appropriateness of the developed measures.

Finally, they will use the results of these activities to make recommendations about the suitability of the program for further evaluation and actions that could be taken to further refine the model and the measurements to enhance future evaluation efforts.

"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