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Psychopathy and the combination of psychopathy and sexual deviance as predictors of sexual recidivism: meta-analytic findings using the Psychopathy Checklist--Revised

Psychopathy and the combination of psychopathy and sexual deviance as predictors of sexual recidivism: meta-analytic findings using the Psychopathy Checklist--Revised

Psychological Assessment 25(1): 233-243

ISSN/ISBN: 1040-3590

PMID: 23088204

DOI: 10.1037/a0030391

Clinicians routinely administer Hare's (2003) Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) to sex offenders and report PCL-R scores as meaningful predictors of recidivism risk. Although a 2005 meta-analysis reported a small (d=0.29) association between PCL-R scores and sexual recidivism (Hanson & Morton-Bourgon, 2005), no meta-analysis has examined effects for PCL-R factors and facets, the widely cited combination of high PCL-R and high sexual deviance scores, or potential moderators of the PCL-R/recidivism relation. We conducted a meta-analysis of effects from all available studies examining the relation between PCL-R scores and sexual recidivism (k=20, N=5,239). The effect for PCL-R Total scores predicting sexual recidivism was d=0.40, which falls beyond the upper end of the 2005 confidence interval [.20, .38]. Effects were stronger for Factor 2 (d=0.44) and Facet 4 (d=0.40) scores than other factor or facet scores (ds=0.01 to 0.17). Effects tended to be stronger for scores calculated for research (d=0.44) compared to those calculated for clinical use (d=0.28). Offenders who scored high on both the PCL-R and a measure of sexual deviance were more likely to reoffend sexually than other offenders (odds ratio=2.80 to 3.21, k=6). Results indicate that PCL-R scores, particularly combined with a measure of sexual deviance, are potentially relevant to sex offender risk. But results also underscore several practical challenges to implementing these findings in routine clinical practice.

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