Rehabilitation Programs for Adult Offenders: A Meta-Analysis in Support of Guidelines for Effective Practice, 5 Countries, 1950-2014 (ICPSR 37281)

Version Date: Oct 29, 2019 View help for published

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Mark W. Lipsey, Vanderbilt University

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This is a comprehensive meta-analysis of available research on the effects of intervention programs for adult offenders, which is based on 801 eligible controlled studies reported through 2014 identified by researchers. Variables describing the intervention, participating offender samples, research methods, and effects found on a range of outcome constructs were coded into a database for analysis. The major outcome categories examined were recidivism, substance use, employment, mental health, anger/hostility, and aggression/violence. Broad intervention approaches included those such as cognitive behavioral, structured group, counseling, and drug court programs.

The meta-analysis seeks to examine outcomes of various types of interventions and identify the characteristics of programs and participants most closely associated with positive outcomes. It seeks to use the findings to construct and obtain feedback on effective practice guidelines within the adult correctional system.

Lipsey, Mark W. Rehabilitation Programs for Adult Offenders: A Meta-Analysis in Support of Guidelines for Effective Practice, 5 Countries, 1950-2014. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2019-10-29.

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2014IJCX0021)


Access to these data is restricted. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement, specify the reason for the request. and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

1950 -- 2014

The purpose of this study is to conduct a comprehensive meta-analysis of the available research through 2014 on the effects of intervention programs for adult offenders, building on an existing database drawn from eligible studies reported through 2005. It also aims to analyze the resulting meta-analytic data with a focus on estimating the impact of different interventions on recidivism and other outcomes, and identifying the program and participant characteristics most strongly associated with positive outcomes. It also seeks to use the meta-analysis findings to construct effective practice guidelines and obtain feedback on their applicability, utility, and ease of implementation from criminal justice practitioners in the adult correctional system.

Research studies were eligible for inclusion in this meta-analysis if they met specific criteria summarized in brief as follows:

The study involves a qualifying psycho-social intervention or treatment that has as its aim, implicitly or explicitly, the reduction of criminal behavior or other improvements in behavior, skills, mental health, social functioning, and the like.

At least 50 percent of the sample consists of criminal offenders and at least 60 percent of the sample consists of adults (age greater than or equal to 18 years) or the mean age of the sample is greater than 18.

Outcomes for at least one participant group of at least 10 individuals receiving treatment are compared with those for at least one qualifying control condition (no treatment, treatment as usual, etc., but not persons dropping out or refusing treatment) of at least 10 individuals.

Participants were randomly assigned to treatment and control conditions, or matched on or compared on baseline variables that included at least one pretest criminal history/risk variable or two relevant personal/demographic characteristics.

At least one outcome variable is reported for recidivism or other outcomes indicative of successful intervention such as employment, mental health, substance use, etc.

The study was conducted during or after 1950 in the United States or another English-speaking, culturally similar country (e.g., Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand).

Controlled studies featuring psychosocial treatments aimed at reducing criminal behavior or improving social function in which the majority of the participants are adult criminal offenders and randomly assigned to treatments with at least one outcome variable indicative of successful treatment for recidivism or other outcomes

Variables in this collection include program country, evaluator role and affiliation, participant demographics, offense, re-offense risk level, level of supervision, recidivism, and effect size. Several variables relative to the treatment program, provider, delivery, setting, and types of treatments are also in this collection.



2019-10-29 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Inverse variance weights were computed for each effect size based on sample sizes for the treatment and control groups.



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