An evaluation of a brief anger management programme for offenders managed in the community using cross-lagged panel models

Publication Date05 May 2015
AuthorTimothy James Trimble,Mark Shevlin,Vincent Egan,Geraldine O'Hare,Dave Rogers,Barbara Hannigan
SubjectHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Criminal psychology
An evaluation of a brief anger management
programme for offenders managed in the
community using cross-lagged panel models
Timothy James Trimble, Mark Shevlin, Vincent Egan, Geraldine OHare, Dave Rogers and
Barbara Hannigan
Timothy James Trimble is
Professor of Applied
Psychology at the Department
of Psychology, Trinity College
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.
Mark Shevlin is based at the
University of Ulster at Magee,
Londonderry, Northern Ireland,
Vincent Egan is based at the
Psychiatry and Applied
Psychology, University of
Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.
Dr Geraldine OHare and
Dr Dave Rogers are based at
Probation Board for Northern
Ireland, Belfast, Ireland.
Barbara Hannigan is
Professor of Psychology at the
Department of Psychology,
Trinity College Dublin, Dublin,
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the effectiveness of a brief, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy-
based group intervention in anger management with male offenders. All participants were the subject of a
stipulation to attend the programme under a probation order, and were at the time of the study being
managed in the community.
Design/methodology/approach Totally, 105 offenders attended the anger management programme,
which was delivered by the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI), between 2008 and 2010 across a
range of centres, representing most regions of the province. Prior to treatment, the offenders completed two
measures: The State Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI), and the Stages of Change Scales (SCS). Both
these measures were also completed at the end of the programme of treatment.
Findings It was found that the programme significantly reduced the expression of anger as well as state
and trait anger among offenders referred to the programme as measured by the STAXI. Both the action
and maintenance subscales of the SCS were significant predictors of improvement in anger expression.
The action subscale was shown to be a valuable predictor of readiness for change amongst the
Originality/value Assessing an offenders readiness to change may enhance selection for specific
rehabilitation programs thus reducing drop-out rates leading to a more efficient use of resources. This study
demonstrates that those participants who were found to be more ready for change, benefited most from the
intervention programme.
Keywords Offenders, Anger management, Cognitive behavioural intervention, Cross-lagged panel,
Stages of change model, STAXI
Paper type Research paper
In recent decades, diagnosing and treating persons who have manifest anger problems has
been of increasing concern. For example, anger has been posited as fulfilling the criteria
for a mood-related disorder, and in this manifests in individuals having problems with social
functioning, occupational roles, and interpersonal relationships (Lench, 2004). Although anger
has not been conclusively shown to be necessary for the commission of violent crime, some
studies have demonstrated it has predictive value for re-offending (Novaco, 1994, 1997), and
anger amongst offenders has been described as a serious issue within prisons (Ireland, 2004).
In community-based disposals, courts frequently refer individuals for anger management
treatment. These programmes for offenders aim to reduce anger and potentially have the value
of preventing violent re-offending (Stermac, 1986). Justice administrations have focused their
attention on violent offenders as an important group for intervention (Howells and Day, 2003),
and a range of these programmes have been developed which target anger management as
Received 2 February 2015
Revised 3 April 2015
Accepted 8 April 2015
VOL. 5 NO. 2 2015, pp. 124-136, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 2009-3829 DOI 10.1108/JCP-02-2015-0006

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