Seewald, Katharina

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Seewald
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Katharina
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Assessing the risk of intimate partner violence : expert evaluations versus the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment

2017, Seewald, Katharina, Rossegger, Astrid, Urbaniok, Frank, Endrass, Jérôme

In the forensic field, a reliable and valid assessment of domestic perpetrators who pose a high risk of reassaulting an intimate partner is needed to implement effective risk management strategies. The purpose of the present study was to examine the accuracy of two violence risk assessment methods in identifying high-risk perpetrators of IPV, comparing forensic experts with psychology students. For a cohort (n = 30) of domestic violent cases that required an expert evaluation in the Canton of Zurich in Switzerland, violence risk was assessed by certified forensic psychiatrists using unstructured clinical judgment (UCJ) and by undergraduate and graduate research assistants scoring the actuarial Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA) instrument. After a mean follow-up period of 8.0 years, the base rate of violent recidivism was 20.0%. Students were significantly more accurate than clinical experts in assessing long-term violent recidivism (AUC = 0.78 vs. 0.44). Raters without extensive clinical training could differentiate those spouses who carried on assaulting their intimate partner from those who desisted from violent behavior. Potential explanations are clinical assessment biases and the mediating effect of interventions. Further research should address the lack of use of mechanical instruments in clinical forensic practice.