- What are the practice and research needs for improving IPAS programs?
Intimate partner abuse solution (IPAS) programs were first developed in the 1970s and have historically been referred to as batterer intervention programs. Although these programs are now known by different labels and apply different approaches and philosophies, collectively they are designed to prevent intimate partner violence (IPV) by holding perpetrators accountable for their behavior and prioritizing safety and justice for victims. Despite widespread adoption and use of IPAS programs by court systems and communities around the United States, there remains inconsistent and limited information on their effectiveness. The authors of this report convened a panel of experts to better understand the needs of these programs. In a three-session virtual workshop, the group discussed the programs, challenges, and solutions and identified 33 high-priority needs, which cover four major areas: content covered in current IPAS programs; program implementation; connections between IPAS programs and criminal justice and community entities; and challenges in conducting rigorous research on IPAS programs.
- Programs are typically designed around or required to follow a prescribed approach.
- Systems are not always based on an evidence-informed, theoretical model of change that incorporates an assessment of the risk factors and needs to address interpersonal violence.
- There is not enough emphasis on the community when it comes to preventing recurrence or escalation of IPV.
- IPAS programs suffer from a lack of funding for both program implementation and rigorous research.
- Most programs do not conduct any aftercare or follow-up with participants after program completion.
- State regulations around IPAS programs are often very prescriptive, which prevents states from altering or shifting their approaches.
- There is considerable variation in the logistics of how IPAS programs are run and limited research on how logistical factors affect participation.
- Programs are limited by a lack of information from survivors about ongoing interactions with the participant.
- There is a lack of understanding of and consistency in the process of referring perpetrators to IPAS programs and potential biases associated with this process.
- Because of the many conceptual and logistical variations in IPAS programs, research findings may not be generalizable.
- Data from previous studies should be reviewed and pooled and additional studies should be conducted to see whether programs worked for certain groups of individuals.
- Systems that incorporate evidence from trauma-informed and evidence-informed approaches that help individuals understand accountability for their actions should be developed and appropriately funded.
- Innovative approaches should be developed and implemented to engage and actively partner with multiple sectors across the community, including victim advocacy services, public health, medical service providers, faith communities, and university research partners.
- Rigorous research should be conducted that includes outcomes that are not just recidivism, are informed by survivor voices, and measure the outcomes that are most relevant to survivors.
- The ideal frequency, form, and potential impact of check-ins and aftercare following program completion should be assessed.
- Evidence-informed federal guidance on shifting state standards around IPAS programs should be developed.
- Research should be conducted on the impacts of program logistics on participation, including best practices in incorporating virtual options into in-person programs.
- A better understanding of how to measure victim satisfaction should be developed.
- Research should account for race, socioeconomic status, and other characteristics of program participants.
- Researchers should be precise with reporting research findings and clear about the types of programs that were studied.
The research described in this report was supported by the National Institute of Justice and conducted by the Justice Policy Program within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being.
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