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Risk, Responsivity, and the Treatment Process in an Intimate Partner Violence Group Program



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High attrition and recidivism rates are particularly common among intimate partner violence (IPV) offenders (Stith, Smith, Penn, Ward, & Tritt, 2004; Jewell & Wormith, 2010). This is problematic given that IPV is prolific and harmful to individuals, families, and societies (García-Moreno et al., 2013). Drawing upon theories of change and rehabilitation (e.g., Bonta & Andrews, 2017; Burrows & Needs, 2009; Ward, Day, Howells, & Birgden, 2004), this project examined the role of static and dynamic offender characteristics as well as treatment processes within an IPV group program. This research sought to improve what is currently known about promoting program engagement and retention, reducing and managing IPV risk, and preventing and predicting recidivism. The study used a mixed-model, repeated-measures design. Participants included 88 men who attended a community-based IPV group program. Risk was measured using the ODARA and the SARA-V3. Participant demographic and legal history information were collected from the community agency’s files. Self-report questionnaires served to measure dynamic specific responsivity factors (DRFs; i.e., motivation for treatment, readiness to change IPV, confidence in treatment effectiveness, and self-efficacy) and three treatment process variables (TPVs; i.e., treatment satisfaction, therapeutic alliance, and group cohesiveness). Program engagement served as both a process variable and an outcome measure, which was rated by facilitators. Other outcome measures included attendance, the achievement of short-term treatment targets, changes in risk, and recidivism. The findings suggested that the program examined in the current study was effective in reducing risk and preventing recidivism. As well, many specific responsivity factors and TPVs were found to be interrelated and dynamic. Most DRFs and TPVs were important for building program engagement, which in turn was associated with the achievement of short-term treatment targets. Various individual characteristics (legal history, risk, specific responsivity factors) and TPVs were also associated with treatment outcomes, which carry implications for assessment, intervention, and case management. For instance, changes in risk on the SARA-V3 was shown to predict recidivism. Overall, the current findings may provide guidance regarding how interventions may be tailored to the often-changing expression of specific responsivity factors and offender responses to IPV group programming. Further research on external factors that may impact program retention and effectiveness is recommended.



Intimate Partner Violence, Intervention, Assessment



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)






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