Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] PL103-183 August 1, 2000 9:21 Style ﬁle version Nov. 19th, 1999
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 12, No. 4, 2000
Predictors of Sexual Recidivism: Did Meta-Analysis
Clarify the Role and Relevance of Denial?
Charles A. Lund
Seven studies selected for meta-analysis of the denial variable in a large-scale
meta-analysis of predictors of sexual recidivism are brieﬂy reviewed and a number
of methodologic issues are identiﬁed that relate to interpretation of the failure of
meta-analysis to ﬁnd an effect for the denial variable. These include variability
in deﬁnition of the denial variable, variation in treatment access and exclusion
for deniers, low base rates of recidivism, small sample sizes, low power, and
high probability of type II error across individual studies. Despite the apparent
objectivity and power of this methodology, a careful examination of the individual
studies suggests that meta-analysis did not clarify the role and relevance of denial
as a predictor of sexual recidivism. Further work is necessary to clarify the role
and relevance of denial in treatment success, risk assessment, and risk prediction.
KEY WORDS: meta-analysis; denial; sexual recidivism; base rate; power.
A large-scale study (Hanson & Bussiere, 1998) of sexual offender recidivism
summarized the use of an objective methodology, meta-analysis, for integrating
data across many studies from different settings, time periods, and follow-up in-
tervals. This ambitious and exhaustive study identiﬁed a variety of factors that
the sexual offender literature demonstrates as affecting sexual, violent, and crimi-
nal recidivism. Noteworthy among those variables predictive of sexual recidivism
were sexual offensehistory, early onset of offending, and deviant interests. Pooling
data from many studies has been a commonly acknowledged and helpful practice
in the context of educational research, psychotherapy studies, and literature re-
views in various subdisciplines in psychology (Cooper & Lemke, 1991; Glass &
Smith, 1979; Smith & Glass, 1977), although objections have been raised about the
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