Online alcohol interventions, sexual violence and intimate partner violence

April 2015
Tait, R. J., & Lenton, S. (2015). Online alcohol interventions, sexual violence and intimate partner violence: A systematic review. Internet Interventions, DOI: 10.1016/j.invent.2015.03.001

About 20% of female students report that they have been raped or sexually assaulted during their time in higher education – markedly more than in the general population. Many of these assaults occur when the perpetrator, victim or both are intoxicated. There is extensive research to show that online interventions are effective in reducing alcohol consumption in both the general adult population and among tertiary students. But does this also lead to a reduction in sexual assaults?

We systematically searched the published literature for online interventions and only found four studies that reported on both change in alcohol use and sexual assault outcomes, with most finding small or non-significant changes in sexual assault outcomes. The lack of research on the topic is surprising given that most research on online alcohol interventions has been conducted with tertiary students, a population that suffers a high prevalence of sexual assaults. The addition of questions on sexual assault within existing online alcohol programs would be a pragmatic starting point in determining the opportunity of using this approach as a way of reducing this type of alcohol related harm.