Assessing Risk of Violence

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Recent Research on Assessing Risk of Violence:

38 Studies Published in 2016-2022

Kenneth S. Pope, Ph.D., ABPP

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I gathered the following 38 citations and excerpts from recent (i.e., published or in-press in peer-reviewed journals in 2016-2022) studies to make it easier for clinicians, researchers, and others to keep abreast of the evolving research relevant to assessing the risk of violence:

Abbiati, M., et al. (2018). "Predicting physically violent misconduct in prison: A comparison of four risk assessment instruments." Behavioral Sciences & the Law: No Pagination Specified-No Pagination Specified.

Excerpt: "The present study applied four risk assessment instruments (Structured Assessment of Protective Factors for violence risk, Historical Clinical Risk Management-20, Psychopathy checklist – Revised, and Violent Risk Appraisal Guide) to 52 violent offenders in a Swiss prison in order to evaluate the instruments' predictive validities. Outcomes were instances of physically violent, other and any misconduct as recorded in prison files during the 12 months following the prisoners' assessments. Approximately 15% of offenders committed physically violent misconduct and approximately 42% committed any misconduct. The results show that mainly dynamic assessment tools are as good predictors of physically violent misconduct as mainly static assessment tools. Targeting dynamic factors could increase the effectiveness of interventions to reduce the risk of physical violence in prison."


Anderson, J. L., et al. (2020). "Utility of the MMPI-2-rf in sexual violence risk assessment." The International Journal of Forensic Mental Health—published online in advance of print publication.

Excerpt: "Taken together, these findings suggest that, although the MMPI-2-RF does not appear to be associated with specific static risk factors (e.g., previous victim qualities, type of sexual offenses), the externalizing scales on the MMPI-2-RF are useful in examining more dynamic factors (e.g., those assessed on the SVR-20) in conjunction with other dynamic and static risk tools (e.g., SVR-20, Static-99) in sexual violence risk evaluations."


Bergstrøm, H. and D. P. Farrington (2021). "Psychopathic personality and criminal violence across the life-course in a prospective longitudinal study: Does psychopathic personality predict violence when controlling for other risk factors?" Journal of Criminal Justice: published online in advance of print publication.

Excerpt: " Psychopathic personality was predictive of violent offending across the life-course. After controlling for childhood risk factors, psychopathic personality was still a significant predictor of violent convictions."


Brugman, S., et al. (2016). "Cognitive predictors of violent incidents in forensic psychiatric inpatients." Psychiatry Research. Published online in advance of print publication.

Excerpt: "Generalized linear mixed model analyses showed that increased attention towards threat and aggression, difficulty recognizing sad faces and factor 2 of the PCL-R predicted the sum of violent incidents. Specifically, verbal aggression was predicted by increased attention towards threat and aggression, difficulty to recognize sad and happy faces, and PCL-R factor 2; physical aggression by decreased response inhibition, higher PCL-R factor 2 and lower PCL-R factor 1 scores; and aggression against property by difficulty recognizing angry faces. Findings indicate that cognitive tasks could be valuable in predicting aggression, thereby extending current knowledge on dynamic factors predicting aggressive behavior in forensic patients."

Burgess, J. (2020). "A brief review of the relationship of executive function assessment and violence." Aggression and Violent Behavior 54.

Excerpt: "The reviewed studies tested a diverse selection of offenders, including murderers, domestic offenders, sexual offenders, perpetrators of assault, and batterers. The characteristic finding from the examined studies was that errors on Trail Making Test- Part B and various scores from the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test differentiated violent and nonviolent persons more consistently than other EF tests used. Violent offenders also performed significantly worse on tests of verbal fluency and general verbal ability compared to nonviolent individuals. Additionally, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test was able to differentiate between different types of violent offenders. These results held across the type of crime committed, as well as incarcerated individuals, and individuals who self-reported as being physically aggressive."


Coupland, R. B. A. and M. E. Olver (2020). "Assessing dynamic violence risk in a high-risk treated sample of violent offenders." Assessment 27(8): 1886-1900.

Excerpt: The present study featured an investigation of the predictive properties of risk and change scores of two violence risk assessment and treatment planning tools—the Violence Risk Scale (VRS) and the Historical, Clinical, Risk–20, Version 2 (HCR-20)—in sample of 178 treated adult male violent offenders who attended a high-intensity violence reduction program. The cases were rated on the VRS and HCR-20 using archival information sources and followed up nearly 10 years postrelease. Associations of HCR-20 and VRS risk and change scores with postprogram institutional and community recidivism were examined. VRS and HCR-20 scores converged in conceptually meaningful ways, supporting the construct validity of the tools for violence risk. Receiver operating characteristic curve analyses demonstrated moderate- to high-predictive accuracy of VRS and HCR-20 scores for violent and general community recidivism, but weaker accuracy for postprogram institutional recidivism. Cox regression survival analyses demonstrated that positive pretreatment and posttreatment changes, as assessed via the HCR-20 and VRS, were each significantly associated with reductions in violent and general community recidivism, as well as serious institutional misconducts, after controlling for baseline pretreatment score. Implications for use of the HCR-20 and VRS for dynamic violence risk assessment and management are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)


de Girolamo, G., et al. (2016). "Monitoring and predicting the risk of violence in residential facilities. No difference between patients with history or with no history of violence." Journal of Psychiatric Research 80: 5-13.

Excerpt: " The bi-monthly monitoring during the 1-year follow-up did not show any statistically significant differences in aggressive behaviour rates between the two groups. The subscale explaining most of the MOAS total score was aggression against objects, although verbal aggression was the most common pattern. Furthermore, verbal aggression was significantly associated with aggression against objects and physical aggression…. Patients with a history of violence in RFs, where treatment and clinical supervision are available, do not show higher rates of aggressiveness compared to patients with no lifetime history of violence. Since verbal aggression is associated with more severe forms of aggression, prompt intervention is warranted to reduce the risk of escalation.


DeMatteo, D., et al. (2020). "Statement of concerned experts on the use of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist—Revised in capital sentencing to assess risk for institutional violence." Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 26(2): 133-144.

Excerpt: "We present a Statement of Concerned Experts that summarizes our findings and opinions, concluding the PCL–R cannot and should not be used to make predictions that an individual will engage in serious institutional violence with any reasonable degree of precision or accuracy, especially when making high-stakes decisions about legal issues such as capital sentencing."


Fazel, S., et al. (2016). "Prediction of violent reoffending on release from prison: Derivation and external validation of a scalable tool." The Lancet Psychiatry 3(6): 535-543.

Excerpt: "We identified a cohort of 47 326 prisoners released in Sweden between 2001 and 2009, with 11 263 incidents of violent reoffending during this period. We developed a 14-item derivation model to predict violent reoffending and tested it in an external validation (assigning 37 100 individuals to the derivation sample and 10 226 to the validation sample). The model showed good measures of discrimination (Harrell's c-index 0·74) and calibration. For risk of violent reoffending at 1 year, sensitivity was 76% (95% CI 73–79) and specificity was 61% (95% CI 60–62). Positive and negative predictive values were 21% (95% CI 19–22) and 95% (95% CI 94–96), respectively. At 2 years, sensitivity was 67% (95% CI 64–69) and specificity was 70% (95% CI 69–72). Positive and negative predictive values were 37% (95% CI 35–39) and 89% (95% CI 88–90), respectively. Of individuals with a predicted risk of violent reoffending of 50% or more, 88% had drug and alcohol use disorders. We used the model to generate a simple, web-based, risk calculator (OxRec) that is free to use."


Gerbrandij, J., et al. (2018). "Evaluating risk assessment instruments for intimate partner stalking and intimate partner violence." Journal of Threat Assessment and Management 5(2): 103-118.

Excerpt: "Research indicates that most stalking victims are harassed by a prior intimate partner and that this group of victims is at a higher risk for violence than other stalking victims. Furthermore, many researchers found a relationship between prior intimate partner stalking (IPS) and intimate partner violence (IPV). The present study focused on identification of overlapping and unique risk factors among IPS and IPV offenders. This was done by examining the accuracy and utility of abridged versions of the Brief Spousal Assault Form for the Evaluation of Risk (B-SAFER) and the Guidelines for Stalking Assessment and Management (SAM) in a sample of 158 low-risk offenders charged with crimes targeting an intimate partner. Follow-up ranged from one to 8.5 years; outcome variables were renewed (or continued) stalking and violent reoffending. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves indicated that both instruments had weak, nonsignificant predictive validity for both violent or stalking reoffending when considered in isolation. However, each instrument added significantly to the logistic regression model when predicting stalking recidivism when entered after the PCL:SV and relevant covariates, but neither improved predictive accuracy when added after the other was already in the model. Neither instrument added to logistic regression models predicting violent reoffending. Analysis of individual items revealed that items measuring distress and violations of supervision (SAM) and violations of court orders (B-SAFER) were the most consistent predictors of renewed stalking but not violence. The findings of this study question the utility of these tools for predicting violent reoffending but provide qualified support for the prediction of stalking."


Ghosh, M., et al. (2019). "The validity and utility of violence risk assessment tools to predict patient violence in acute care settings: An integrative literature review." International Journal of Mental Health Nursing—Published online in advance of print publication.

Excerpts: "16 violence risk assessment tools were identified. Thirteen of them were developed to assess the risk of violence in psychiatric patients. Two of them were found to be accurate and reliable to predict violence in acute psychiatric facilities and have practical utility for general acute care settings. Two assessment tools were developed and administered in general acute care, and one was developed to predict patient violence in emergency departments. There is no single, user-friendly, standardized evidence-based tool available for predicting violence in general acute care hospitals. Some were found to be accurate in assessing violence in psychiatric inpatients and have potential for use in general acute care, require further testing to assess their validity and reliability."


Hogan, N. R. and M. E. Olver (2019). "Static and dynamic assessment of violence risk among discharged forensic patients." Criminal Justice and Behavior 46(7): 923-938.

Excerpt: "Each of the Historical-Clinical-Risk Management-20 Version 3 (HCR-20V3), Psychopathy Checklist–Revised, Short-Term Assessment of Risk and Treatability, Violence Risk Scale (VRS), and Violence Risk Appraisal Guide–Revised was rated based on institutional files. The study instruments significantly predicted community-based violent recidivism (area under the curve [AUC] = 0.68-0.85), even after controlling for time at risk using Cox regression survival analyses. Dynamic change scores computed from the HCR-20V3 Relevance ratings and from the VRS also demonstrated incremental predictive validity, controlling for baseline scores. The findings provided support for the use of the study instruments to assess violence risk and for the consideration of dynamic changes in risk—provided that valid means of assessment are employed."


Jung, S. and K. Buro (2017). "Appraising risk for intimate partner violence in a police context." Criminal Justice and Behavior 44(2): 240-260.

Excerpt: "The Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA) and a modified 14-item version of the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment Guide (SARA) demonstrated large effects in their ability to predict any reoffending or any violent reoffending and moderate predictive accuracy for IPV offending behaviors. The regionally used approach, Family Violence Investigative Report (FVIR), showed good predictive validity for any future offending but poorly predicted any of the violent-specific recidivism outcomes…. The ODARA was significantly better at predicting violence risk over the FVIR, but paired comparisons did not reveal statistical differences with the SARA."


Klepfisz, G., et al. (2016). "Understanding dynamic risk factors for violence." Psychology, Crime & Law 22(1-2): 124-137.

Excerpt:" Recent years have seen a consensus emerge regarding the dynamic risk factors that are associated with future violence. These risk factors are now routinely assessed in structured violence risk assessment instruments. They provide a focus for treatment in structured group programmes. However, relatively little attention has been paid to risk-related theoretical issues, whether these dynamic risk factors are causally related or simply correlates of violent offending, or the extent to which they change as a consequence of treatment. More challenging is the lack of evidence to suggest that changes in these dynamic risk factors actually result in reductions in violent offending. In this paper we consider the meaning of the term dynamic risk, arguing that only those factors that, when changed, reduce the likelihood of violent recidivism, can be considered to be truly dynamic. We conclude that few of the violence risk factors commonly regarded as dynamic fulfil this requirement."


Koh, L. L., et al. (2020). "The predictive validity of youth violence risk assessment tools: A systematic review." Psychology, Crime & Law — Published online in advance of print publication.

Excerpt: "A total of 38 studies, involving 9,307 participants, reported data for six different tools; the most common of which were the SAVRY and the YLS/CMI. Each of the tools demonstrated at least moderate levels of predictive validity, with the predictive validity of several newer assessment tools yet to be established."


Krebs, J., et al. (2020). "Applicability of two violence risk assessment tools in a psychiatric prison hospital population." Behavioral Sciences & the Law — Published online in advance of print publication.

Excerpt: "In this single-center study, two violence risk assessment tools (Forensic Psychiatry and Violence Tool, “FoVOx,” and Mental Illness and Violence Tool, “OxMIV”) were applied to a prison hospital population with a primary psychotic or bipolar disorder and subsequently compared. The required information on all items of both tools was obtained retrospectively for a total of 339 patients by evaluation of available patient files. We obtained the median and inter-quartile range for both FoVOx and OxMIV, and their rank correlation coefficient along with 95% confidence intervals (CIs)—for the full cohort, as well as for cohort subgroups. The two risk assessment tools were strongly positively correlated (Spearman correlation = 0.83; 95% CI = 0.80–0.86). Such a high correlation was independent of nationality, country of origin, type of detention, schizophrenia-spectrum disorder, previous violent crime and alcohol use disorder, where correlations were above 0.8. A lower correlation was seen with patients who were 30 years old or more, married, with affective disorder and with self-harm behavior, and also in patients without aggressive behavior and without drug use disorder. Both risk assessment tools are applicable as an adjunct to clinical decision making in prison psychiatry."


Messing, J. T., et al. (2017). "The lethality screen: The predictive validity of an intimate partner violence risk assessment for use by first responders." Journal of Interpersonal Violence 32(2): 205-226.

Excerpt: "These analyses provide evidence that the Lethality Screen has considerable sensitivity (92%-93%) and a high negative predictive value (93%-96%) for near lethal and severe violence. However, specificity was low (21%). The Lethality Screen also has good agreement with the DA and IPV survivors' perception of risk. The high sensitivity and low specificity should be considered carefully when determining whether the Lethality Screen is appropriate for particular areas of practice with IPV survivors and/or perpetrators."


Loinaz, I. and A. M. de Sousa (2020). "Assessing risk and protective factors in clinical and judicial child-to-parent violence cases." The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context 12(1): 43-51.

Excerpt: "The current paper compares 61 clinical and 30 judicialized cases that were evaluated using the Child-to-Parent Violence Risk assessment tool (CPVR). Results showed a higher prevalence of risk factors in the judicial sample. This group of aggressors had worse profiles of violence (bidirectionality of the parent/child violence, violence other than CPV, and more CPV complaints), more psychological issues (low frustration tolerance, little anger management, narcissism, and violent attitudes) and, most notably, more dysfunctional families (violence between parents, cohabitation problems, inversion of the hierarchy, non-violent conflicts, and even criminal history of the parents). Logistic regression showed that narcissism, attitudes justifying violence, violence between parents, and problems of parents themselves (such mental disorders or drug abuse) allowed for correct classification of 89.4% of cases. Total CPVR scores differed between groups (25.8 vs. 14.2), and classification was good for both type of group (AUC = .830) and injuries to mother (AUC = .764). A cut-off score between 22 and 23 showed the best results in prediction of group and injuries to mother. Utility of the CPVR, and next steps in its development are discussed."


Mills, J. F. (2017). "Violence risk assessment: A brief review, current issues, and future directions." Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne 58(1): 40-49.

Excerpt: "A little over 11 years ago, I was invited to look forward and anticipate what areas in violence risk assessment would see more study (Mills, 2005). The areas identified at that time related to (a) increased clarity on the similarities and differences between structured professional judgment and actuarial approaches to risk assessment and the associated implications, (b) advancing our understanding of risk communication and risk management, (c) including dynamic change in actuarial risk assessment, and (d) the need to recalibrate frequently used risk appraisal instruments. This brief look back at my looking forward includes what we have learned from meta-analytic studies and that a review of the progress in the 4 areas identified above lead directly or indirectly to the need for a much greater understanding in the area of criminal justice risk communication. In matters of risk communication, we need to be clear in what we say and we need to understand how it will be perceived and employed by those who hear that message."


Muir, N. M., et al. (2020). "Predictive validity of the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) with Indigenous and Caucasian female and male adolescents on probation." Psychological Assessment 32(6): 594-607.

Excerpt: "The SAVRY summary risk ratings and risk total scores significantly predicted violent and any reoffending for Indigenous female and male youth with medium effect sizes. Relatively few significant differences in the predictive validity emerged for Indigenous and Caucasian youth. However, Historical, Protective, and Risk Total scores predicted any recidivism better for Caucasian males than Indigenous males. Also, Indigenous youth scored significantly higher on all risk domains than Caucasian youth. Opposite to predictions, the rates of false positives were higher for Caucasian youth than for Indigenous youth. Based on the results, the SAVRY appears to be a reasonable tool to use for assessing risk in Indigenous youth. However, assessors should take steps to ensure that they use the SAVRY in a culturally appropriate manner, such as considering cultural factors in case formulations and treatment planning as the SAVRY does not ground assessments in an understanding of factors such as colonialism. In addition, future research should examine culturally salient risk factors (e.g., discrimination) and examine potential causes of higher risk scores in Indigenous youth, particularly the role of both past and present-day colonialism."


Myhill, A. and K. Hohl (2019). "The “golden thread”: Coercive control and risk assessment for domestic violence." Journal of Interpersonal Violence 34(21-22): 4477-4497.

Excerpt: "This study uses data from risk assessment forms from a random sample of cases of domestic violence reported to the police. An innovative latent trait model is used to test whether a cluster of risk factors associated with coercive control is most representative of the type of abuse that comes to the attention of the police. Factors associated with a course of coercive and controlling conduct, including perpetrators’ threats, controlling behavior and sexual coercion, and victims’ isolation and fear, had highest item loadings and were thus the most representative of the overall construct. Sub-lethal physical violence—choking and use of weapons—was also consistent with a course of controlling conduct. Whether a physical injury was sustained during the current incident, however, was not associated consistently either with the typical pattern of abuse or with other context-specific risk factors such as separation from the perpetrator. Implications for police practice and the design of risk assessment tools are discussed. We conclude that coercive control is the “golden thread” running through risk identification and assessment for domestic violence and that risk assessment tools structured around coercive control can help police officers move beyond an “incident-by-incident” response and toward identifying the dangerous patterns of behavior that precede domestic homicide."


Neil, C., et al. (2019). "Protective factors in violence risk assessment: Predictive validity of the saprof and hcr-20v3." The International Journal of Forensic Mental Health — Published online in advance of print publication.

Excerpt: "Using a pseudo-prospective design, the predictive and incremental validity of protective factors was explored using the Structured Assessment of Protective Factors (SAPROF) and Historical Clinical Risk Management-20 (HCR-20V3) in 75 male inpatients in a secure setting. Over a 12-month period, protective factors significantly predicted the absence of inpatient (institutional) violence and risk factors, particularly dynamic factors, predicted the presence of violence. Hierarchical logistic regression did not establish the incremental validity of the SAPROF. Preliminary evidence for the predictive and incremental validity of the Integrative Final Risk Judgment was found with individuals judged high risk being almost seven times more likely to engage in violence than those assessed as moderate risk. High risk ratings were associated with fewer protective factors and more risk factors. Therefore, whilst dynamic risk factors are clear targets for risk management, consideration of protective factors may contribute to overall estimates of risk and provide additional targets for intervention."


O'Shea, L. E., et al. (2016). "Predictive validity of the HCR-20 for violent and non-violent sexual behaviour in a secure mental health service." Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health 26(5): 366-379.

Excerpt: "HCR-20 total score, clinical and risk management subscales, predicted violent and non-violent sexual behaviour. The negative predictive value of the HCR-20 for inappropriate sexual behaviour was over 90%."


Rosenfeld, B., et al. (2017). "Determining When to Conduct a Violence Risk Assessment: Development and Initial Validation of the Fordham Risk Screening Tool (FRST)." Law and Human Behavior [online prior to print publication]

Excerpt: "The FRST showed a high degree of sensitivity (93%) in identifying patients subsequently deemed to be at high risk for violence (based on the Case Prioritization risk rating). The FRST also identified all of the patients (100%) rated high in potential for severe violence (based on the Serious Physical Harm Historical Clinical Risk Management-20, version 3, summary risk rating). Sensitivity was more modest when individuals rated as moderate risk were included as the criterion (rather than only those identified as high risk). Specificity was also moderate, screening out approximately half of all participants as not needing further risk assessment."


Schumann, S., et al. (2021). "Does cognitive inflexibility predict violent extremist behaviour intentions? A registered direct replication report of zmigrod et al., 2019." Legal and Criminological Psychology: published online in advance of print publication.

Excerpt: "We confirmed the overall conclusion of the original study: lower cognitive flexibility predicted stronger willingness to fight and die for an in-group. The findings highlight that it is important to integrate cognitive style in multi-level frameworks of risk factors of violent extremism. Additionally, our results point out that the validity of different measures of cognitive flexibility, including self-report tools, must be further examined."


Scott, D. and S. Bennett (2022). "Gang violence and homicide: Do select factors that police report contribute to gang violence, specifically predict gang homicide?" Deviant Behavior: published online in advance of print publication.

Excerpt: "The results reveal a significant relationship between multiple factors that police report contribute to violence and gang homicides. The findings inform theoretical explanations for gang violence and have implications for policy effectively addressing gang homicides nationwide."


Shepherd, S. M. (2016). "Violence risk instruments may be culturally unsafe for use with indigenous patients." Australasian Psychiatry 24(6): 565-567.

Excerpt: "To realize equitable forensic assessment, it is necessary to ascertain whether there are cultural differences across risk factors for violence and that risk instruments are validated as culturally appropriate. Greater cross-cultural rigour in forensic mental health risk assessment, research and practice [is needed]."


Sowden, J. N. and M. E. Olver (2017). "Use of the Violence Risk Scale—Sexual Offender Version and the Stable 2007 to assess dynamic sexual violence risk in a sample of treated sexual offenders." Psychological Assessment 29(3): 293-303.

Excerpt: "VRS-SO pre- and posttreatment dynamic scores demonstrated significant predictive accuracy for sexual, nonsexual violent, any violent (including sexual), and general recidivism, while Stable-2007 pre- and posttreatment scores were significantly associated with the latter 3 outcomes; these associations were maintained after controlling for the Static-99R (Helmus, Thornton, Hanson, & Babchishin, 2012). Finally, significant pre-post differences, amounting to approximately three quarters of a standard deviation, were found on Stable-2007 and VRS-SO scores. VRS-SO change scores were significantly associated with reductions in nonsexual violent, any violent, and general recidivism (but not sexual recidivism) after controlling for baseline risk or pretreatment score, while Stable-2007 change scores did not significantly predict reductions in any recidivism outcomes."


Stone, A. G., et al. (2021). "Dynamic risk factors reassessed regularly after release from incarceration predict imminent violent recidivism." Law and Human Behavior 45(6): 512-523.

Excerpt: " Individuals who recidivated violently had higher initial risk ratings (DRAOR Stable d = 0.36, 95% CI [0.17, 0.55]; DRAOR Acute d = 0.45, 95% CI [0.26, 0.64]) and showed more week-to-week fluctuations in risk ratings (DRAOR Stable d = 0.21, 95% CI [0.04, 0.41]; DRAOR Acute d = 0.26, 95% CI [0.06,0.46]). Total averages of faster-changing acute risk factors best predicted violence (c-index = 0.68), with changes in these factors incrementally predicting violence over well-established predictors (criminal history) and initial scores (Δχ2 = 15.54, df = 3). The constructs that best discriminated violence were consistent with social cognition explanations of violence....  Because client consistency as determined through score aggregation was more important than current presentation, supervision officers should consider overall patterns of interpersonal hostility and reactivity rather than assuming the emerging presence of these factors will signal imminent violence among previously violent individuals."


Strub, D. S., et al. (2016). "Violence risk assessment of civil psychiatric patients with the HCR-20: Does gender matter?" The International Journal of Forensic Mental Health 15(1): 81-96.

Excerpt: "Results indicated that the HCR-20 as well as its components predicted both the occurrence and imminence of violent outcomes and gender did not moderate those relationships. Exploratory analyses revealed gender differences in the baseline item and scale ratings. Additionally, the HCR-20 demonstrated an association with violent victimization."


Svalin, K. and S. Levander (2020). "The predictive validity of intimate partner violence risk assessments conducted by practitioners in different settings—A review of the literature." Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology 35(2): 115-130.

Excerpt: "The predictive accuracy for the global risk assessments ranged from low to medium. The role of treatment or other interventions to prevent repeat IPV had been analyzed in one way or another in eight of the studies. There is a knowledge gap, the reasons of which are discussed."


Tapp, J. and E. Moore (2016). "Risk assessments for dating violence in mid to late adolescence and early adulthood." Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health 26(4): 278-292.

Excerpt: "Drawing on this evidence, we conclude that young people appear to be at greater risk of encountering dating violence if they have experienced violence in earlier attachment relationships; if their skills for coping with conflict and responding to coercion are limited and if the presence of peer influences reinforces offence supportive attitudes. The reliability and validity of existing intimate partner violence risk assessments that conceptually overlap with elements of dating violence risk warrant investigation to inform risk assessment developments in this field and, building on this, possible interventions to minimise future harm."


Viljoen, J. L., et al. (2018). "Do risk assessment tools help manage and reduce risk of violence and reoffending? A systematic review." Law and Human Behavior 42(3): 181-214.

Excerpt: "Although it is widely believed that risk assessment tools can help manage risk of violence and offending, it is unclear what evidence exists to support this view. As such, we conducted a systematic review and narrative synthesis. To identify studies, we searched 13 databases, reviewed reference lists, and contacted experts. Through this review, we identified 73 published and unpublished studies (N = 31,551 psychiatric patients and offenders, N = 10,002 professionals) that examined either professionals' risk management efforts following the use of a tool, or rates of violence or offending following the implementation of a tool. These studies included a variety of populations (e.g., adults, adolescents), tools, and study designs. The primary findings were as follows: (a) despite some promising findings, professionals do not consistently adhere to tools or apply them to guide their risk management efforts; (b) following the use of a tool, match to the risk principle is moderate and match to the needs principle is limited, as many needs remained unaddressed; (c) there is insufficient evidence to conclude that tools directly reduce violence or reoffending, as findings are mixed; and (d) tools appear to have a more beneficial impact on risk management when agencies use careful implementation procedures and provide staff with training and guidelines related to risk management. In sum, although risk assessment tools may be an important starting point, they do not guarantee effective treatment or risk management. However, certain strategies may bolster their utility."


Viljoen, J. L. and G. M. Vincent (2020). "Risk assessments for violence and reoffending: Implementation and impact on risk management." Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice: No Pagination Specified-No Pagination Specified.

Excerpt: "Risk assessment instruments for violence and reoffending are widely used throughout the world. According to researchers, there are many different reasons to use these instruments; for instance, they are thought to reduce violence, save money, and improve treatment planning. In this article, we create a taxonomy to classify these risk management outcomes into agency, professional practice, and evaluee domains. Through a review of research, we show that instruments do not always achieve their goals. First, agencies encounter problems in successfully implementing instruments. Second, a lack of follow through can occur between risk assessments and the subsequent phases of risk management, such as case planning and intervention delivery."


Viljoen, J. L., et al. (2021). "Do structured risk assessments predict violent, any, and sexual offending better than unstructured judgment? An umbrella review." Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 27(1): 79-97.

Excerpt: "Although the reviews concluded that structured risk judgments are superior to unstructured judgments, the data supporting these conclusions have limitations. None of the systematic reviews directly compared risk assessment tools with unstructured judgments. In addition, two thirds of the primary studies included in the systematic reviews were from the 1980s or earlier, and 89% had serious methodological limitations that created a high risk of bias. In many cases, the primary studies did not examine unstructured judgments per se but instead used proxies such as legal and administrative decisions. As such, there is a pressing need for an updated systematic review that focuses on direct comparison studies and carefully addresses study limitations."


Warren, J. I., et al. (2018). "Gender and violence risk assessment in prisons." Psychological Services 15(4): 543-552.

Excerpt: "Our study examines the association between Historical, Clinical, Risk Management-20: Version 2; Psychopathy Checklist–Revised; and Violence Risk Assessment Guide scores and violence perpetrated during incarceration by male and female inmates. Using a sample of 288 men and 183 women selected from prisons in 2 states, we used receiver operating characteristics analyses to assess the potential of these 3 measures to predict threatened, physical, or sexual prison violence measured in 2 ways: inmate self-report and formal institutional infractions. We found all 3 instruments to demonstrate moderate to good levels of predictive accuracy for both the male and female inmates, a finding that suggests that actuarial, structured professional judgment and personality measures perform in a broadly comparable manner in assessing institutional violence for both men and women. Our findings did vary on the basis of the way violence was measured: Women self-reported significantly higher levels of prison violence than was suggested by their institutional infractions, and the associative power of the instruments diminished substantially, particularly among the men, when institutional infractions alone were used in the analyses. These findings suggest that the 3 risk measures are likely to be gender neutral in their association with prison violence, albeit with gender-related differences in the frequency of violent behavior and the relevance of particular subscales."


Watt, K. A., et al. (2018). "Violence risk identification, assessment, and management practices in inpatient psychiatry." Journal of Threat Assessment and Management 5(3): 155-172.

Excerpt: "The analysis revealed limited use of formal identification and assessment instruments for violence and diversity with respect to strategies used to manage violence. These findings have implications for highlighting promising practices that are currently being used, and identifying potential areas for future improvement.


Youngson, N., et al. (2021). "Challenges in risk assessment with rural domestic violence victims: Implications for practice." Journal of Family Violence — Published online in advance of print publication.

Excerpt: "Analysis indicated several risk factors including the location (i.e., geographic isolation, lack of transportation, and lack of community resources) and cultural factors (i.e., accepted and more available use of firearms, poverty, and no privacy/anonymity). Moreover, analyses indicated several challenges for VAW service providers assessing risk including barriers at the systemic (i.e., lack of agreement between services), organizational (i.e., lack of collaboration and risk assessment being underutilized/valued), and individual client (i.e., complexity of issues) level. However, participants outlined promising practices being implemented for rural locations such as interagency collaboration, public education, professional education, and outreach programs. The findings support other research in the field that highlight the increased vulnerability of women experiencing DV in rural locations and the added barriers and complexities in assessing risk for rural populations. Implications for future research and practice include further examination of the identified promising practices, a continued focus on collaborative approaches and innovative ways to prevent and manage risk in a rural context."


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