The purpose of this systematic review was to compile and synthesize published and unpublished empirical studies of the effects of second responder programs on repeat incidents of family violence.
The review addressed the following questions:
- Do second responder programs reduce the likelihood of repeat incidents of family abuse?
- Do second responder programs increase the frequency with which family violence victims use services such as counseling, civil legal assistance programs, shelters, and so forth?
- Do second responder programs increase the confidence of the victims in the police and satisfaction with police services?
The researchers employed multiple strategies to search for literature that met the eligibility criteria. A keyword search was performed on a variety of online databases. Researchers reviewed the bibliographies of all second responder studies they located. Researchers performed hand searches of leading journals in the field and searched the Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women Web site for a listing of federally-funded second responded programs and any evaluations conducted on those programs. After collecting an electronic or paper copy of each article or report, researchers extracted pertinent data from each eligible article using a detailed coding protocol. Two trained researchers independently coded all eligible studies. Uncertainty and disagreement between the two coders were resolved through discussion and consultation. A reconciliation process occurred where all disputed cases were resolved with one of the principal investigators. Two main outcome measures were available for a sufficient number of studies to permit meta-analysis. One outcome was based on police data (Part 1: Poice Data, n=9), for example whether a new domestic violence incident was reported to the police in the form of a crime report within six months of the triggering incident. The second outcome was based on survey data (Part 2: Interview Data, n=8), for example whether a new domestic violence incident occurred and was reported to a researcher during an interview within six months of the triggering incident. Several of studies (n=7) included in the meta-analysis had both outcome measures.
A total of 22 studies that discussed second responder programs were found by the research team. Of these, 12 were eliminated from the sample because they did not meet the following inclusion criteria:
- Intervention: Included studies had to be evaluations of a second responder program; that is, a program operated in cooperation with a municipal law enforcement agency in which, in response to a family violence complaint (complaints involving intimate partners, family members, or persons cohabiting), the police summon a family violence specialist or specialists to visit victims at their homes. These specialists could be victim advocates and/or specially trained police officers. The content of the contact had to be aimed at reducing the likelihood of a repeat offense and could include information about the nature of family violence, safety planning, information about legal rights and services, shelter placement, relocation assistance, and referrals to socials services. Programs that contact victims only by mail or phone were not included.
- Research Design: Studies had to include an acceptable comparison group which did not receive a second response. The comparison group had to consist of cases meeting the same criteria as treatment group cases (i.e. family violence complaints) and could be from the same geographic area as the treatment group or from another geographic area identified as having similar case and demographic make-up.
- Outcome Measures: Included studies had to have at least one measure of new abuse following the intervention. These measures could include police reports or arrests of new offenses committed by the perpetrator against the same victim. Information about new offenses may also be derived from surveys of victims.
All published and unpublished evaluations of second responder programs.
The following databases were included in the literature search:
- Criminal Justice Periodical Index
- Criminal Justice Abstracts
- National Criminal Justice Reference Services (NCJRS) Abstracts
- Sociological Abstracts
- Social Science Abstracts (SocialSciAbs)
- Social Science Citation Index
- Dissertation Abstracts
- National Institute of Justice
- Office of Violence Against Women
- Office of Victims of Crime
- British Home Office
- Australian Criminology Database (CINCH)
- Gover Publications Office, Monthly Catalog (GPO Monthly)
- C2 SPECTR (The Campbell Collaboration Social, Psychological, Educational and Criminological Trials Register)
- Google Scholar
- Academic Search Premier
- Web of Knowledge
- Justice Research and Statistics Association
- California Post Library
- Social Drugscope.org.uk
The following keywords were used to search the databases listed above (in all cases where "police" is listed researchers also used "policing"):
- Second responder program
- Coordinated community response
- Police OR law enforcement AND repeat domestic violence OR wife abuse OR marital violence
- Police OR law enforcement AND crisis intervention AND domestic violence OR marital violence OR wife abuse
- Police OR law enforcement AND domestic violence advocates OR battered wom*n OR family violence AND evaluation AND response OR services
- Police OR law enforcement AND home visitation AND evaluation
- Police OR law enforcement AND intimate partner violence AND evaluation AND response OR services
Variables include the first author's last name, study title, and where the study was located (journal name, Web site, etc.). Study specific variables include a description of the sample (victim and offender characteristics), type of intervention, methodology and research design, outcome measures, effect size and reports of statistical significance.