Individuals – Davis & Maxwell (2006)

Study Reference:

Davis, R. C., Maxwell, C. D., & Taylor, B. (2006). Preventing repeat incidents of family violence: Analysis of data from three field experiments. Journal of Experimental Criminology2(2), 183-210.

Location in the Matrix:

Individuals, focused, reactive

What police practice or strategy was examined?

The study reanalyzed data from three previous field trials testing interventions to mitigate family violence in public housing between late 1987 and mid-1997 in New York City. The interventions that were tested consisted of (a) a follow-up home visit to households reporting a domestic incident by a police officer and social worker and (b) a public education program using community meetings, posters, and flyers to educate participants about family violence. Initially, the three studies had inconsistent results with one showing a beneficial effect while another showing an iatrogenic backfiring effect. The current study combined the three databases (with an N of nearly 1,000 cases) to try to develop consistent conclusions about the effects of the intervention.

How was the intervention evaluated?

All three previous tests were randomized control trials with diverse samples regarding the nature of victim-perpetrator relationship (family violence or elder abuse) and types of incidents (minor incidents in two studies; assaults and others in the other). In analyzing treatment impact, the authors combined the databases from the three experiments, created comparable variables, and conducted a single analysis. Specifically, they measured, within 6 months after the initial incident, the frequency of new abusive incidents, how long does it take for new abusive incidents to occur, and social service used. Data were collected from police reports and victim self-reports.

What were the key findings?

Results showed that the interventions caused an increase in reporting new abusive incidents to authorities and to interviewers across all three studies. It is not clear whether this increase is a result of increased abuse or increased reporting about abuse.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The authors suggested the need for monitoring and careful supervision of programs using the techniques tested in this article until new and more comprehensive research can be conducted.

Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?