Cognitive behavioural group therapy for male perpetrators of intimate partner violence: a systematic review
Violence against intimate partners is a worldwide public health problem. Cognitive behavioural therapy delivered in a group format is widely used for the treatment of men’s violent behaviour towards their female partners. A Cochrane review about the effectiveness of this therapy from 2011 revealed a lack of controlled studies. Our aim is to update the current evidence on the effectiveness of cognitive behavioural group therapy on men’s violent behaviour towards their female partner.
The Cochrane Library, the Campbell Collaboration Social, MEDLINE, PsychINFO, CINAHL, SCOPUS, Embase, Open Grey, Grey Literature Report, and Sociological Abstracts were searched for studies investigating the effectiveness of cognitive behavioural group therapy on intimate partner violence published in the period of January 1, 2010, to February 12, 2018. Manual searches were also performed to identify randomized and non-randomized controlled trials. Data extraction was done in duplicate. The primary outcome was the reduction in violent behaviour, and secondary outcomes were physical health, mental health, quality of life, emotion regulation, and substance use. Study quality was assessed with the Cochrane Collaboration’s risk of bias tool and the Risk of Bias In Non-Randomized Studies of Interventions tool. A narrative summary was used to describe the review findings.
We identified six new studies that met the inclusion criteria: four randomized controlled trials and two non-randomized trials. Three of the randomized controlled trials found a reduction in intimate partner violence after treatment. The fourth randomized trial found that a subsample of responding partners reported a reduction in violence but no changes in the men’s self-reported violence after treatment. No effect could be detected in the two non-randomized studies. Analysis of risk of bias revealed mixed results, indicating both strengths and weaknesses.
Only a limited amount of studies which scored as “low quality” were available.
There is still insufficient evidence to confirm that cognitive behavioural group therapy for perpetrators of intimate partner violence has a positive effect. Future research should focus on randomized controlled studies distinguishing between convicted and non-convicted populations where violent behaviour is the primary outcome.