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Open Access Research article

A multi-site controlled trial of a cognitive skills program for mentally disordered offenders

Angharad Rees-Jones12, Gisli Gudjonsson2 and Susan Young2*

Author Affiliations

1 University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

2 King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK

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BMC Psychiatry 2012, 12:44  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-44

Published: 18 May 2012

Abstract

Background

The effectiveness of offending behaviour programs in forensic mental health settings is not well established. Thus this study aimed to evaluate the Reasoning and Rehabilitation Mental Health program (R&R2 MHP) among a mentally disordered offender (MDO) population.

Methods

A sample of 121 adult males drawn from 10 forensic mental health sites completed questionnaires at baseline and post-treatment to assess violent attitudes, locus of control, social problem-solving and anger. An informant measure of social and psychological functioning, including disruptive behaviour, was completed by unit staff at the same time. At three month follow-up patients completed again the violent attitudes and locus of control questionnaires. The data of 67 patients who participated in the group condition were compared with 54 waiting-list controls who received treatment as usual.

Results

78% of group participants completed the program. In contrast to controls, significant treatment effects were found at outcome on self-reported measures of violent attitudes, rational problem-solving and anger cognitions. Improvements were endorsed by informant ratings of social and psychological functioning within the establishments. At follow-up significant treatment effects were found for both violent attitudes and locus of control.

Conclusions

R&R2 MHP was effective in a sample of MDOs and had a comparatively low drop-out rate. Future research should use a randomized controlled design.

Keywords:
Mentally disordered offenders; Treatment outcome; Reasoning & Rehabilitation; Cognitive skills