An exploration into the impact of care staff attitudes towards men who have sexually offended

Challinor, L.E. (2019) An exploration into the impact of care staff attitudes towards men who have sexually offended. DForenPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

Background: Understanding attitudes towards men who have sexually offended has been a research interest for many years. The existing research provides inconsistent findings, making it difficult to draw firm conclusions regarding the factors that are related to the attitudes that people hold towards men who sexually offend. This is an important area to understand, both for society, and for institutions that detain men who have sexually offended. Attitudes towards men who have sexually offended is related to the way in which the men engage in therapeutic treatment and also the way in which they can be successfully re-integrated into society. The thesis is motivated by a need to better understand the factors that are associated with the attitudes that people hold towards men who sexually offend and what changes are required to clinical practice to make positive improvements. Though each chapter is presented in sequence, they can be regarded as four independent studies, each of which utilise a different methodological design but are thematically linked.

Aims and Objectives: The overarching aim of the thesis is to further explore the factors that are associated with attitudes towards men who sexually offend and the effect that attitudes have on rehabilitation and re-integration. The four research questions were;

1. What does existing literature tell us about staff attitudes towards men who have sexually offended? How do these attitudes impact on the care and treatment provided?

2. Do the attitudes towards men who have sexually offended of forensic healthcare staff and the general public differ based on gender, levels of exposure and duration of exposure?

3. Is the Attitudes towards Sex Offenders Scale (ATS; Hogue, 1993) a psychometrically robust tool and should it continue to be so widely used?

4. What are the benefits of taking a narrative humanisation approach to staff training? Is it an effective method to encourage staff to privilege more positive narratives over less positive ones and what impact does it have on clinical practice?

Method: Four different research methods were employed to answer the four research questions. A systematic review was conducted to explore the existing literature base and data were synthesised to determine what factors are empirically supported as important in relation to attitudes towards men who sexually offend. An empirical research study was conducted to determine whether any differences were apparent based on gender of participants and the type and the duration of exposure to men who sexually offend. An online questionnaire was employed and data were statistically analysed using t-tests, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and post-hoc Newman-Keuls analysis. Research question three was answered by critiquing the psychometric properties of the ATS, a tool which has been widely used in the attitudinal literature for many years. Finally, research question four is answered using a case study exploring the effectiveness of a narrative humanisation staff intervention as an alternative to traditional classroom based training.

Overall Findings:

1. The systematic review found a number of different factors that were important when considering the attitudes people hold towards men who have sexually offended; exposure, job role and gender. However, it also suggested that many findings were inconsistent between studies. As a result, the aim of chapter three was to further explore the factors.

2. The results from the empirical research study concluded that the gender of the participant did not relate to attitudes towards men who have sexually offended. Exposure was important; the general public who were not generally exposed to men who have sexually offended had significantly more negative attitudes in comparison to professionals and paraprofessionals who were exposed to the offenders in their work. The duration of this exposure did not influence attitudes.

3. The psychometric critique of the ATS suggests that the tool has a number of shortcomings in terms of validity and reliability. Therefore, the ATS may not be the most robust assessment of attitudes because of the way in which it was adapted. Consequently, chapter five utilised alternative attitudinal measurements.

4. The narrative humanisation intervention demonstrates the strength of applied learning tasks to enhance changes in routine practice. A Reliable Change Index (RCI) evidences significant change in the positive attitudes and perceptions of staff when considering men who have sexually offended.

Conclusion: A number of factors are relevant when considering the attitudes that people hold towards men who sexually offend. Positive and negative attitudes impact on the care, treatment and re-integration options provided to men who have sexually offended. Enhancing the understanding of the impact of these attitudes allows for changes in therapeutic treatment, including strength-based approaches. It also promotes changes to clinical practice, for example alternative methods of training, whilst maintaining the risk-need-responsivity principles. In addition, it allows for the promotion of positive care to create an environment more conducive to rehabilitation.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DForenPsy)
Supervisors: Duff, S.
Keywords: Sex offenders, Attitudes, Rehabilitation, Attitudes towards Sex Offenders Scale
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WM Psychiatry
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Item ID: 56777
Depositing User: Challinor, Laura
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2020 08:59
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2020 09:00
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/56777

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