This study examined the impact on batterer (perpetrator of domestic assault) program completion and reassaults of female partners in relation to the program's mental health screening, compliance with referrals for mental health services, and mental health treatment effectiveness.
The study concluded that the extra efforts, procedures, coordination, and costs of implementing a mandatory screening and referral system for batterer mental health treatment did not improve overall outcomes (program completion and significant reduction in partner abuse). This finding must be viewed with caution, however, because of the small portion of men who actually received treatment and the lack of improvement in mental health for the referred men as a whole. It is difficult to justify investment in the apparatus required for mandatory referral for mental health treatment for the relatively small portion of men involved and the small net improvement in outcomes. The option of referral for men with observed or self-reported mental health problems seems justified, however. One instructive finding is that batterer program participants are not likely to comply with voluntary referrals for mental health treatment. Accountability through court mandate, oversight, and sanctions should substantially improve compliance, and the men who do comply should benefit from treatment. The service delivery evaluation showed that nearly half of the batterer program participants (n=479 of 1,043) screened positive on the Brief Symptom Inventory and were referred to a local mental health clinic. Only 30 percent of the referred men received an evaluation, and 20 percent received some treatment under mandatory referral. At least one-third of the referred men acknowledged a need for treatment and were more likely to obtain treatment. The outcome evaluation was based on a 12-month followup with female partners (65 percent response rate; n=308). 4 figures, 15 tables, and 87 references
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