Syracuse UniversityCounseling Center

Research Findings

The effectiveness of Campus Connect for residence advisors has been evaluated at Syracuse University using a repeated measures experimental methodology. Evaluation has relied primarily on use of the Suicide Intervention Response Inventory 2 (SIRI-2), an instrument developed to measure ability to recognize appropriate responses to suicidal individuals. In addition to good internal consistency and test-retest reliability, the SIRI-2 has been shown to have good construct validity, convergent validity, and discriminant validity. For instance, the SIRI-2 has previously been shown to discriminate between groups with differing levels of suicide intervention skills, and it has been found to be sensitive to training in suicide intervention skills. Research on Campus Connect has also involved the use of a measure of self-assessed knowledge, comfort, and skills related to suicide intervention and connection to students in crisis.

Through participation in the Campus Connect training, resident advisors have shown consistent and significant improvement in suicide intervention skills as measured by the SIRI-2 (see Table 1). Post-training scores on the SIRI-2 showed significant improvement from baseline pre-training levels (mean difference = 22.40, p< .001). In a validation study of the SIRI-2 (Neimeyer & Bonnelle, 1997), the mean scores of counselor trainees were 54.66 prior to participating in a master’s level crisis intervention class. Thus, the SIRI-2 scores obtained in this study indicate that the skill level of participants is closer to that of master level counselor trainees after training than before (post-training mean = 56.56, baseline mean = 78.96). In addition, resident advisors demonstrated a significant increase in their self-assessed knowledge, comfort, and skills as a result of the Campus Connect training. For example, based on their self-assessment, resident advisors evidenced an increase in their ability to connect to students in crisis, their comfort in asking about suicide ideation, and their ability to aid distressed students in accessing available resources.

Given that the Campus Connect training places a strong emphasis on the importance of increasing active listening and relationship building skills in gatekeepers, a second evaluation study was conducted which specifically evaluated the effectiveness of the experiential components of the training. In the second study, resident advisors were divided into two groups, one of those groups completed training in a standard three hour format along with pre and post measures. The remaining group completed training over two days, with all experiential exercises withheld until day two, with a second set of post-training measures added at the end of the second day. Resident advisors’ SIRI-2 scores showed a significantly increased improvement when receiving the active listening and experiential components in addition as compared to when receiving only the training on suicide facts, warning signs, and making a referral (see Table 2).

Table 1
Effectiveness of Campus Connect Training as Measured by SIRI-2 Scores

Mean Std. Deviation N
Baseline 78.96 21.73 144
Post-training 56.56 15.88 144
Difference 22.40 15.86  
p<.001
*The mean represents the participant’s deviation from the expert score; therefore a smaller number is a better score

Table 2
Utility of the Campus Connect Experiential Exercises Based on SIRI-2 Scores

Group 1 Group 2
Mean Mean
Baseline 77.71 84.32
Post-training (experiential exercises withheld) 68.64
Post-training (following experiential exercises) 56.55  60.19
p<.001 for all within group differences and between group differences at the first post-training assessment.*The mean represents the participant’s deviation from the expert score; therefore a smaller number is a better score