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Practice Profile

Interventions for Domestic Violence Offenders: Duluth Model

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:

Effective - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Violent offenses
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Victimization - Domestic/intimate partner/family violence

Practice Description

Practice Goals/Practice Theory
There are a number of interventions that are common in the treatment of domestic violence offenders. One prominent clinical intervention employs a feminist psychoeducational approach and is widely known as the Duluth Model. Originating in 1981 from the Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project in Duluth, Minnesota, this intervention proposes that the principal cause of domestic violence is a social and cultural, patriarchal ideology that historically has allowed men to control women through power and violence. Violence perpetrated on women and children originates from their relative positions of weakness and vulnerability socially, politically, economically, and culturally. As such, the model does not assume that domestic violence is caused by mental or behavioral health problems, substance use, anger, stress, or dysfunctional relationships. The program concentrates on providing group-facilitated exercises that challenge a male’s perception of entitlement to control and dominate his partner. The Duluth Model is considered less of a therapy and more of a psychoeducational program. This treatment technique focuses on providing an improved and broadened understanding of the causes and effects of the underlying problems experienced by the offender.

Practice Components
The Duluth Model makes use of the “Power and Control Wheel” as a tool to understand patterns of abusive behavior, including acts and threats of physical and sexual violence. The wheel includes the following eight items: 1) intimidation; 2) emotional abuse; 3) isolation; 4) economic abuse; 5) male privilege; 6) coercion and threats; 7) using children; and 8) minimizing, denying, and blaming. The wheel is designed to enable abusers to recognize the patterns of domestic violence rather than as isolated or cyclical acts. The goal of the intervention is to convince men to use nonviolent strategies outlined in the “Equality Wheel.” The eight items making up this wheel are 1) negotiation and fairness, 2) economic partnership, 3) shared responsibility, 4) responsible parenting, 5) honesty and accountability, 6) trust and support, 7) respect, and 8) non-threatening behavior. These items are considered to be the foundations of a strong and egalitarian relationship.

Target Populations
The Duluth Model focuses on male domestic violence perpetrators and female victims. Its theory is based on an understanding of male power, control, and dominance as culturally and historically pervasive and which allowed, if not encouraged, men to control women, sometimes using violence.

Additional Information
Another model of interventions targeted at domestic violence offenders is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) (https://www.crimesolutions.gov/PracticeDetails.aspx?ID=16). There are a number of differences between interventions for domestic violence offenders that use CBT and interventions that use the Duluth Model. One main difference between the two types of interventions is in the theories underlying each. With CBT, violence is viewed as a learned behavior, which can be addressed by changing patterns of thinking and promoting and reinforcing nonviolent alternatives. The Duluth Model proposes that the principal cause of domestic violence is a social and cultural, patriarchal ideology that has allowed men to control women through power and violence. The model does not assume that domestic violence is caused by other issues such as mental or behavioral health problems. The Duluth Model focuses on changing offenders’ dominant and controlling behaviors, to foster more egalitarian relationships. In addition, CBT is a therapeutic approach, whereas the Duluth Model is viewed as psychoeducational programming (Babcock et al. 2004; Arias, Arce, and Vilariño 2013). However, the distinct differences between the two models are often unclear (Babcock et al. 2004).

Meta-Analysis Outcomes

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Effective - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Violent offenses
Looking at the police report data from five randomized trials, Babcock and colleagues (2004) found a small but statistically significant effect size favoring the treatment group (d = 0.19) in measures of recidivism. This means that domestic violence offenders who participated in interventions using the Duluth Model were less likely to recidivate, compared with offenders who did not participate.
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Victimization - Domestic/intimate partner/family violence
Looking at partner-reported data from five quasi-experimental studies, Babcock and colleagues (2004) found a statistically significant, small-to-medium effect size (d = 0.35) favoring the treatment group in measures of partner victimization. This means that that there were fewer reports of violence reported by partners of domestic violence offenders who participated in interventions using the Duluth Model, compared with offenders who did not participate.
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Meta-Analysis Methodology

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Meta-Analysis Snapshot
 Literature Coverage DatesNumber of StudiesNumber of Study Participants
Meta-Analysis 11984 - 2003225536

Meta-Analysis 1
Babcock and colleagues (2004) performed a meta-analytic review of 22 studies evaluating the effects of domestic violence interventions for male perpetrators. Their literature search identified studies that examined the effectiveness of three different types of interventions: Duluth Model, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and others.

To perform the meta-analysis, the study authors searched PsycINFO using keywords, and batterer programs from article references. They identified five experimental and 17 quasi-experimental studies with designs that met the following inclusion criteria: 1) a valid comparison group of batterers, and 2) police reports of recidivism and victim-reports of outcome data. Seven of the studies were unpublished, and 15 were published in peer-reviewed journals. These 22 studies provided 4.4 effect sizes in which various or multiple treatments were compared with each other and with comparison groups. There was a total of 5,536 participants across the various treatment conditions in the reviewed studies. The authors did not present a demographic breakdown.

The outcomes of interest in this review were recidivism and victimization. Recidivism was considered as any report of physical violence reported by the victims and/or domestic violence incidents reported by the police during the follow-up period. For the recidivism outcomes, the meta-analysis reported an effect size for five experimental studies of Duluth Model interventions (k = 5). For the victimization outcome with victim report data, the meta-analysis reported an effect size for five quasi-experimental studies of Duluth Model interventions (k = 5).

The authors used a hierarchical fixed effects analysis model, because of a nonsignificant overall Q statistic, with inverse variance weights. Analyses were performed by methodological quality (experimental and quasi-experimental) and by treatment type (Duluth Model, CBT, and other interventions). Additionally, effect sizes were broken down by police report and partner report data. Effect sizes were calculated as Cohen’s d.

One potential limitation of the results from this meta-analysis is that 13 quasi-experimental studies used dropouts as a comparison group, which may have confounded the analysis by comparing the most motivated participants with the least. Therefore, some of the results of this meta-analysis should be interpreted with caution, particularly when they are dependent on the effects of quasi-experimental studies.
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this practice.
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Evidence-Base (Meta-Analyses Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the practice profile:

Meta-Analysis 1
Babcock, Julia C., Charles E. Green, and Chet Robie. 2004. “Does Batterers’ Treatment Work? A Meta-Analytic Review of Domestic Violence Treatment.” Clinical Psychology Review 23: 1023–1053.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the practice profile:

Arias, Esther, Ramón Arce, and Manuel Vilariño. 2013. “Batterer Intervention Programmes: A Meta-Analytic Review of Effectiveness.” Psychosocial Intervention 22:153–60. (This meta-analysis was reviewed but did not meet CrimeSolutions.gov criteria for inclusion in the overall outcome rating.)

Miller, Marna, Elizabeth Drake, and Mia Nafziger. 2013. What Works to Reduce Recidivism by Domestic Violence Offenders? (Document No. 13-01-1201). Olympia, Wash.: Washington State Institute for Public Policy. (This meta-analysis was reviewed but did not meet CrimeSolutions.gov’s criteria for inclusion in the overall outcome ratings).
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Practice Snapshot

Gender: Male

Targeted Population: Serious/Violent Offender, Victims of Crime

Settings: Inpatient/Outpatient, Other Community Setting

Practice Type: Conflict Resolution/Interpersonal Skills, Gender-Specific Programming, Group Therapy, Violence Prevention

Unit of Analysis: Persons