Intervention Programs for Perpetrators of Intimate Partner Violence: Conclusions from a Clinical Research Perspective

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SYNOPSISIn this article, the authors consider the empirical status of batterer intervention programs (BIPs) for male perpetrators of intimate partner violence (IPV). Recent reviews have reported only small average effect sizes for BIPs, with the small number of randomized trials showing little benefit of BIP attendance in preventing future abuse. The most widely adopted BIP intervention model has little empirical justification to support this dominance, yet states with standards governing the content of BIPs often mandate this approach as a contingency for state funding. Little data exist concerning the moderators and mediators of BIP effects on IPV recidivism, and a variety of factors threaten to impede future design advancements, including “turf” battles regarding the causes of IPV and limited funding outlets. Given this discouraging summary, the authors argue that research efforts concerning BIP effectiveness should borrow the design strategies and programmatic research efforts that have proven successful in psychotherapy research, in which significant advances have been made with regard to the evaluation and validation of empirically supported treatments for a wide variety of mental health problems. They conclude by calling for a new generation of IPV researchers to work across professional boundaries in a multidisciplinary manner to design the sophisticated evaluation studies that funding agencies would readily support, and that would provide the substantive answers to the many IPV-related public health questions that remain.

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