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

Abstract

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 In total, 14 published and unpublished primary studies, making use of a comparison group and reporting on official recidivism rates, were included in a multilevel meta-analysis.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.

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ter Beek, E., Spruit, A., Kuiper, C.H.Z. et al. Treatment Effect on Recidivism for Juveniles Who Have Sexually Offended: a Multilevel Meta-Analysis. J Abnorm Child Psychol 46, 543–556 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-017-0308-3

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Keywords

  • Juveniles
  • Sex offending
  • Treatment effect
  • Recidivism
  • Meta-analysis