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Offender Engagement in Group Programs and Associations with Offender Characteristics and Treatment Factors: A Review

NCJ Number
Aggression and Violent Behavior Volume: 19 Issue: 2 Dated: March/April 2014 Pages: 102-121
Emma Holdsworth; Erica Bowen; Sarah Brown; Douglas Howat
Date Published
April 2014
20 pages
This article presents a review of research that examined how offender engagement within group programs has been defined or assessed and to what extent these definitions and assessments reflect behavioral change associated with it.
This article presents the results of a review of 47 studies that examined how offender engagement within group programs has been defined or assessed and that explored the extent to which these definitions and assessments reflected expected behavioral changes. The results of the review are divided into two sections: the first section clarifies the operational definitions and assessments of engagement in the engagement-defined studies, while the second section presents a summary of the offender characteristics and treatment factors investigated in all the studies that were associated with the variables underlying the definitions and assessments employed in the engagement-defined studies. As noted in the article, the different definitions and assessments of engagement employed in the studies failed to clarify the role that engagement-related variables have in determining the level of offender engagement in group programs. In addition, the review found that nearly all the offender demographics and treatment factors considered in the studies produced equivocal findings in terms of how they were associated with the engagement variables. These findings suggest that a lack of consistent definitions and assessments can lead to problems in the development of group programs for offenders. Implications for practice and future research are discussed. Tables, figure, and references