Term of Award

Fall 2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Health Policy and Management (COPH)

Committee Chair

William A. Mase

Committee Member 1

Helen Bland

Committee Member 2

Amber Culpepper


Sexual assault is a public health concern that must be systematically addressed. The existence of a comprehensive sexual assault policy and compliance with federal regulations can guide institutions of higher education in responding to and preventing sexual assault on campus. Federal laws hold institutions accountable for providing a safe environment for students. The purpose of this qualitative content analysis was to assess compliance with federal policy and assess the response to sexual assault by IHE in Georgia. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics was utilized to identify Georgia's institutions receiving federal aid during 2018-2019. Using a proportionate stratified random sampling method, publicly available secondary data from 29 institutions were sampled. A content analysis was utilized to identify themes and gaps amongst institutions. NVivo, excel, and a pre-existing coding document were used to analyze and code all documents. The study limited participants to IHE that offered classes on a physical campus in Georgia. Results showed that 79% of sampled institutions published a sexual assault policy. Gaps found across sexual assault policies included variability in reporting options, disciplinary procedures, definitions, and resources. Compliance with federal law varied across institutions, with certificate institutions less likely to comply. The study’s results highlight the variability of sexual assault response and federal law compliance across institutions. Although the results are not generalizable, findings can be used to identify common elements found in policies across institutions in Georgia and can aid in improving response to sexual assault.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material