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An evaluation of the Problem Behaviour Program: A community based model for the assessment and treatment of problem behaviours

Jennifer McCarthy, James Ogloff, & Troy McEwan

Rationale and aims:

  • The Problem Behaviour Program (PBP) is an internationally recognised community-based service that provides assessment and treatment to individuals with high-risk problem behaviours, including sexual offending, violence, threatening behaviour, stalking and fire-setting.
  • This project aimed to evaluate the Program’s efficacy in reducing offence-specific recidivism and forms part of a wider evaluation of the PBP.


  • Police and justice outcome data was used to conduct a recidivism analysis of 824 PBP clients accepted for assessment (n=610) and/or treatment (n=214) between 2006 and 2011.
  • The wider evaluation used feedback from stakeholders and consumers to determine if the PBP is meeting the needs of the community in relation to the nature and quality of service provision.
  • The nature and frequency of mental health contacts amongst PBP clients was examined to establish a mental health profile of this client group.

Results and conclusions:

The project report was completed in late 2015 and made available for distribution. Key findings include:

  • 90% of PBP clients have contact with the public mental health system, despite only 30% of referrals coming from mental health services;
  • Psychotic disorders were the most prevalent diagnoses (28%), followed by depressive disorders (15%) and paraphilias (13%).
  • 66% of clients who attended the PBP for assessment did not have subsequent charges during the follow-up period. Clients averaged 4.9 charges in the two years prior to PBP contact, which dropped significantly to an average of 2.5 charges in the two years after PBP contact.
  • Clients who completed treatment reoffended significantly less often and more slowly than clients who were either not recommended for treatment or who were recommended but dropped out of treatment.
  • 25% of PBP clients are referred for PBP treatment. There was a high level of treatment drop out, with only 40% of treatment recommended clients completing treatment satisfactorily.
  • There was a significant reduction in the number and acuity of mental health contacts by clients after assessment and/or treatment at the PBP.
  • Clients reported overall high levels of satisfaction with the service and identified that it assisted them in understanding and managing their behaviour.