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Treatment for convicted adult male sex offenders: an overview of systematic reviews

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Author(s): Paula Corabian | Liz Dennett | Christa Harstall

Journal: Sexual Offender Treatment
ISSN 1862-2941

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 03;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: psychotherapy | pharmacotherapy | sexual offending | sex offender treatment | systematic review

ABSTRACT
Background: In countries with developed economies, a common approach to protecting communities from sexual offending is to provide specialized treatment for convicted sex offenders to reduce recidivism. Many psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy interventions are currently in widespread use as sex offender treatment (SOT) options delivered within programs to prevent recidivism or reoffending among convicted adult male sex offenders. A number of systematic reviews (SRs) have already evaluated the evidence from primary research studies on the effectiveness of these interventions.Methods: A structured overview of SRs published in English since January 1998 was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy delivered within programs to reduce recidivism among convicted adult male sex offenders.Results: Eight SRs met the inclusion criteria. Evidence from seven moderate-to-high quality SRs suggests that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) delivered within programs adhering to the risk/need/responsivity (RNR) model has the potential to reduce recidivism. These findings must be tempered as they are mostly based on poor quality primary research. The reviewed evidence was inconclusive as to the components or framework of an effective SOT program or the setting in which a program should be delivered.Conclusions: This overview provides decision-makers in the SOT field with an accessible, good quality synthesis of the best evidence available on the effectiveness of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy delivered within programs to reduce recidivism among convicted adult male sex offenders. While further research is warranted, the available evidence suggests that CBT delivered within programs adhering to the RNR model represents the most promising approach.
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