An Exploration of Responsivity among Violent Offenders: Predicting Access to Treatment, Treatment Engagement and Programme Completion

Kate O'Brien, Michael Daffern

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This retrospective archival study examines whether pre-treatment responsivity characteristics influence access to, engagement in, and completion of a violent offender treatment programme. The participants are 115 violent offenders referred for a group-based multi-module treatment programme in medium- and high-security correctional facilities in Victoria, Australia. The case files for each participant were reviewed and information regarding responsivity factors and responses to treatment were gathered. Responsivity characteristics include psychopathy (Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version; PCL:SV), denial and minimisation (Denial and Minimisation Checklist–Third Edition; DMCL-III), and measures of motivation to engage in treatment and guilt and shame associated with violent offending. Engagement was scored using the Response to Treatment Scale. Offenders with higher PCL:SV Factor 2 scores were less likely to be offered a place in the programme and offenders with greater external pressure or motivation to participate in treatment were more likely to commence treatment. Psychopathy and pre-treatment denial and minimisation of offending are related to poorer engagement in treatment; feelings of guilt and shame, along with motivation to participate in treatment, are positively associated with engagement. Predictors of treatment completion include external motivators promoting participation in treatment, within-treatment behaviours (e.g. inappropriate or disruptive behaviour), and psychopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-277
Number of pages19
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology & Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2017


  • engagement
  • responsivity
  • treatment completion
  • violent offenders

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