Mapping dynamics of Stress, Treatment, Avoidance coping, Negative affect, and Disclosure (STAND) to improve mental health outcomes for heterosexual and SGM sexual assault survivors on college campuses


Grant Number: P20GM130461
Principal Investigator: Katy Holland, co-Is: Kim Tyler, Bilal Khan
Funding Agency/Institute: NIH/NIMH
Status: Pending review
Planned Project Period 09/01/2019 – 08/31/2024

The costs of sexual assault are devastating. In the U.S., the economic costs are near $3 trillion, which includes medical care, criminal justice involvement, and lost productivity. The personal health costs for sexual assault survivors are even greater: depression, suicidal ideation, post-traumatic stress, substance use, and associated problems. Risk of sexual assault is highest among women under age 25, and an estimated 20% of women and up to 14% of men are sexually assaulted while attending college. In addition to mental illness, college sexual assault increases the risk of lower grades, missed educational opportunities, and drop out. The negative effects of sexual assault are much worse for sexual and gender minority (SGM) students, who experience victimization at higher rates. Survivors rarely use available services, and little is known about how campus mental health systems and individual factors influence service use patterns and mental health outcomes for SGM and heterosexual survivors on college campuses.

This project will focus on the interactions between five phenomena known to be central to survivors’ lives: 1) Stressors (e.g., re-victimization), 2) Treatment usage (e.g., use of mental health services), 3) Avoidant coping (e.g., drinking), 4) Negative affect (e.g., self-blame), 5) Disclosure of assault to informal supports (e.g., peers)—or STAND. Over a 90-day period, a cohort of college student sexual assault survivors (N=300; 50% SGM) will provide rEMA data through unique cellphone software (Open Dynamic Interaction Networks [ODIN]). These data will establish how individual-level factors affect survivors’ mental health outcomes over time. This project has tremendous potential to strengthen the public health impact of NIH-supported research—enabling educational institutions to better understand their mental health system and identify new opportunities for service delivery interventions to connect sexual assault survivors to mental health services, which will support improve mental health outcomes for these at-risk populations.