A Stage-Based Expert System for Teen Dating Violence Prevention

Period of Performance: 09/15/2005 - 11/30/2006


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Pro-change Behavior Systems, Inc.
South Kingstown, RI 02879
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Male-to-female intimate partner violence accounts for 26% of violence-related injuries in women presenting in hospital emergency departments and 30% of all female homicides. Early to mid-adolescence provides an excellent "window of opportunity" for the prevention of intimate partner violence. Patterns of relating in intimate relationships are still relatively undifferentiated and open to influence. However, the evidence supporting traditional, school-based programs for the prevention of teen dating violence is mixed. A major problem with existing programs is that they are "one size fits all," making it difficult to meet the diverse needs of students-boys and girls, individuals who are dating and those who are not, individuals who have experienced dating violence as a victim, perpetrator, or both, and those who have not. Perhaps most importantly, these interventions neglect individual differences in readiness to use healthy, non-violent ways of relating to stay violence-free. In the current project, we will use expert system technology to integrate best practices for teen dating violence prevention with the Transtheoretical Model (TTM), the "stage model," to develop an interactive computer-administered change program that delivers individualized intervention sessions and exercises tailored to stage of change and other individual characteristics. The primary aims of this project are to develop and validate measures of each of the major dimensions of the TTM, develop a working prototype of the expert system intervention for teen dating violence prevention, and determine the feasibility of our approach in a pilot test. High school students will participate in focus groups to generate ideas for the TTM measures (n=60) and to provide feedback on the intervention materials (n=60); cognitive interviews to ensure TTM instructions and questions are interpreted as intended (n=12); and usability tests to ensure that the expert system intervention is easily navigable and provides a coherent intervention experience (n=12). Six hundred students will complete surveys for measure development, and 100 will participate in the pilot test. Feasibility of this approach will be established if we are able to deliver the intervention as planned during classroom sessions to at least 90% of pilot test participants, and if at least75% of pilot test participants provide an overall rating of 4 or higher (i.e., provide scores in the "good" to "excellent" range) on a measure of acceptability and perceived utility.