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Adaptive theory: an underutilised approach to sexual offender research

Version 2 2024-06-13, 06:58
Version 1 2019-05-17, 10:19
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-13, 06:58 authored by C Youssef
© 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: While most studies utilise quantitative methodologies to examine issues relevant to sexual offending behaviour, such as treatment programmes and risk assessments; substantially fewer studies have utilised qualitative methods, and specifically Layder’s Adaptive Theory (AT) as a methodology; and there is a paucity of research examining community maintenance programmes altogether. The purpose of this paper is to report on the use of AT to the understanding of the significance of community maintenance programmes for high-risk sexual offenders. Design/methodology/approach: Using AT as a unique framework, this study examined an Australian sample of services providers and high-risk sexual offenders participating in a community maintenance programme. In particular, the current research aimed to develop an understanding of community maintenance programmes for released sexual offenders, in a bid to develop a theoretical framework for these programmes. The research had three subject groups, service providers, programme participants who had not reoffended and programme participants who had sexually reoffended. Findings: It appears that this methodology is a useful approach to studies within forensic rehabilitation and offender research. Common, reoccurring themes have been gathered through this approach, which would not have been possible with a quantitative methodology. Research limitations/implications: While this research methodology was applied to a small sample size, its use suggested that AT was an informative and useful research approach to utilise in offender research more broadly, yielding rich in-depth information. Practical implications: Utilising AT provided an in-depth understanding and exploration of experiences for offender populations as well as staff delivering programmes, which enhances the efficacy of programmes delivered by incorporating “user feedback” and allows programme developers to utilise such feedback to improve programmes. An AT approach to offender rehabilitation has been useful in providing exploratory information in the absence of any conceptual or theoretical frameworks and with a very little extant information. Given maintenance programmes are quite understudied, this approach allowed for common themes to emerge in order to guide future research as well as the development of a paradigm. It is worth considering the utility of this methodology for a variety of forensic research, particularly areas which remain understudied. Social implications: Sexual offending behaviour is a significant societal concern. A better understanding of what makes programmes more effective for those who use them and run them, will assist in reducing recidivism, which will benefit the community at large. Originality/value: Layder’s AT has not been used with an offender population in the past, and specifically within the sexual offending realm, thus this paper offers a unique and effective approach to offender research.



Qualitative research journal






Bingley, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2019, Emerald Publishing Limited




Emerald Publishing Limited

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