Are psychological treatments for adult violent offenders associated with change in dynamic risk factors? A meta-analysis of intermediate treatment outcomes

Violent behaviour is a significant problem. Its consequences span strain on the justice and health sectors, long-lasting psychological impacts for victims and their families, weakened public perceptions of safety, and reduced quality of life for perpetrators. Treatments for violent offenders can be effective in reducing violent reoffending. This reduction may occur through a weakening in the strength of ‘dynamic risk factors’ – changeable factors thought to influence an individual’s likelihood of engaging in violence. But, it is unclear whether dynamic risk factors actually change in violence treatments, for whom change is most likely to occur, and which treatment features are most relevant to change.

We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of research studies that evaluated the effectiveness of psychological treatments in adult violent offenders across correctional (i.e., violent offenders in prison, supervised on community corrections orders, or released on parole) and forensic mental health settings (i.e., mentally disordered violent offenders in psychiatric in-patient facilities or receiving out-patient treatment). We were interested in the impact of treatments on dynamic risk factors. The review forms part of a larger systematic review that also examined the impact of psychological treatments delivered to violent offenders on reoffending and the factors that influence the effectiveness of treatment. See below for detailed study findings and related publications.

Papalia, N., Spivak, B.; Daffern, M., & Ogloff, J.R.P. (2020). Are Psychological Treatments for Adults With Histories of Violent Offending Associated With Change in Dynamic Risk Factors? A Meta- Analysis of Intermediate Treatment Outcomes. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 47(12), 1585-1608. https://doi: 10.1177/0093854820956377

Papalia, N., Spivak, B., Daffern, M., & Ogloff, J.R.P. (2019). A meta-analytic review of the efficacy of psychological treatments for violent offenders in correctional and forensic mental health settings. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 2019;e12282. https://doi.org/10.1111/cpsp.12282