Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 543–556 | Cite as

Treatment Effect on Recidivism for Juveniles Who Have Sexually Offended: a Multilevel Meta-Analysis

  • Ellis ter Beek
  • Anouk Spruit
  • Chris H. Z. Kuiper
  • Rachel E. A. van der Rijken
  • Jan Hendriks
  • Geert Jan J. M. Stams


The current study investigated the effect on recidivism of treatment aimed at juveniles who have sexually offended. It also assessed the potential moderating effect of type of recidivism, and several treatment, participant and study characteristics. In total, 14 published and unpublished primary studies, making use of a comparison group and reporting on official recidivism rates, were included in a multilevel meta-analysis. This resulted in the use of 77 effect sizes, and 1726 participants. A three-level meta-analytic model was used to calculate the combined effect sizes (Cohens d) and to perform moderator analyses. Study quality was assessed with the EPHPP Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies. A moderate effect size was found (d = 0.37), indicating that the treatment groups achieved an estimated relative reduction in recidivism of 20.5% as compared to comparison groups. However, after controlling for publication bias, a significant treatment effect was no longer found. Type of recidivism did not moderate the effect of treatment, indicating that treatment groups were equally effective for all types of recidivism. Also, no moderating effects of participant or treatment characteristics were found. Regarding study characteristics, a shorter follow up time showed a trend for larger effect sizes, and the effect size calculation based on proportions yielded larger effect sizes than calculation via mean frequency of offending. Implications for future research and clinical practice are discussed.


Juveniles Sex offending Treatment effect Recidivism Meta-analysis 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Human Studies

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


The asterisks indicate original research included in the analysis.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellis ter Beek
    • 1
  • Anouk Spruit
    • 2
  • Chris H. Z. Kuiper
    • 1
  • Rachel E. A. van der Rijken
    • 3
  • Jan Hendriks
    • 2
    • 4
  • Geert Jan J. M. Stams
    • 2
  1. 1.Horizon Youth Care and EducationRotterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Viersprong Institute for Studies on Personality DisordersHalsterenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Forensic Psychotherapeutic Centre de WaagAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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