How do we know if it works? Measuring outcomes in bystander-focused abuse prevention on campuses


Objective: To address acknowledged limitations in the effectiveness of sexual and relationship abuse prevention strategies, practitioners have developed new tools that use a bystander framework. Evaluation of bystander-focused prevention requires measures, specific to the bystander approach, that assess changes over time in participants' attitudes and behaviors. Few measures exist and more psychometric analyses are needed. We present analyses to begin to establish the psychometric properties of four new measures of bystander outcomes and their subscales. Method: We collected data from 948 first-year college students on two campuses in the northeastern United States. Items assessing attitudes and behaviors related to bystander helping responses in college campus communities for situations where there is sexual or relationship abuse risk were factor analyzed. Results: Measures of readiness to help (assessed specifically with scales representing taking action, awareness, and taking responsibility), intent to be an active bystander, self-reported bystander responses, and perceptions of peer norms in support of action all showed adequate reliability and validity. Conclusion: This study represents a next step in the development of tools that can be used by researchers and practitioners seeking both to understand bystander behavior in the context of sexual and relationship abuse and to evaluate the effectiveness of prevention tools to address these problems. The measures investigated will be helpful for prevention educators and researchers evaluating the effectiveness of sexual and relationship abuse education tools that use a bystander intervention framework.


Psychology, Prevention Innovations Research Center Pubs

Publication Date


Journal Title

Psychology of Violence


American Psychological Association

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type



© 2014 APA, all rights reserved