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Program Profile: Enhanced Thinking Skills (England)

Evidence Rating: Effective - More than one study Effective - More than one study

Date: This profile was posted on June 27, 2017

Program Summary

This is a prison-based, cognitive–behavioral skills enhancement program in England. The program is rated Effective. The evaluations of the program showed significantly reduced reconviction rates of program participants, compared with non-participants.

Program Description

Program Goals
Enhanced Thinking Skills (ETS) is a cognitive–behavioral skills program administered in prison. It is intended to decrease reconviction by targeting participants’ thinking patterns and cognitive skills. ETS treatment targets a range of topics such as impulse control, flexible thinking, values and moral reasoning, interpersonal problem solving, social perspective taking, and critical reasoning. These targets are arranged according to the stages-of-change model, which includes acceptance of problems, desire for change, taking action, maintaining new behaviors, and relapse prevention.
Target Population/Eligibility
This program targets medium-to-high risk and high-risk male and females in Her Majesty’s (HM) Prison Service in England.
Program Components
ETS is a manualized program that consists of 20 interactive sessions, which last 2 hours each. The sessions are offered three to five times a week for 4 to 6 weeks. The program is administered by prison staff and consists of a maximum of 10 participants. Sessions are interactive and involve role play, exercises, discussions among participants to draw out principles that have been covered during the session, and assignments (to be completed in between sessions).
Program Theory  
The program is founded on the belief that cognitive skill deficiencies, which have been associated with offending behavior, can be strengthened through targeted skills enhancement (Friendship et al. 2003). These skills are directly addressed during the ETS sessions.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Friendship and colleagues (2003) found that Enhanced Thinking Skills (ETS) participants were 52 percent less likely to be reconvicted at 2 years post-release, compared with the control group. These findings were statistically significant for individuals with a medium-low and medium-high risk of offending. 
Study 2
Sadlier and colleagues (2010) found that ETS participants demonstrated a significantly lower reconviction rate (27.2 percent), compared with the control group (33.5 percent).
Frequency of Reoffending
ETS participants, in the year after release, were convicted of 60 fewer offenses per 100 released prisoners, compared with control participants. This was a statistically significant reduction. 
Study 3
Travers and colleagues (2013) found that ETS participants had a 6.4 percent lower reconviction rate, compared with the control group.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Friendship and colleagues (2003) applied a retrospective quasi-experimental design, given that analysis was conducted after the Enhanced Thinking Skills (ETS) intervention took place, using administrative data. The program was implemented in a prison setting, and study participants were selected if they met the following criteria: adult males, who had been released for at least 2 years following a sentence of at least 2 years. Results from the similar Reasoning and Rehabilitation (R&R) program, which led to the development of ETS, were analyzed together. Treatment group participants must have voluntarily participated in either R&R or ETS between 1994 and 1996; however, program completion was not an eligibility requirement for inclusion in the study. A total of 667 made up the treatment group. 
Control group participants met the same criteria, but had never participated in either program. A total of 1,801 made up the control group. Study participants were selected using the Inmate Information System (IIS), an internal database used by the prison service. A systematic matching method was applied using the following variables: current offense, sentence length, age at discharge, age at sentence, year of discharge, number of previous sentences, and probability of reconviction score measured using the Offender Group Reconviction Scale (OGRS).
There were significant differences between the treatment and control groups on all matching variables, which is a limitation of the non-randomized experimental design.

Logistic regression was used to determine if there was a relationship between the variables in the model and reconviction among the sample. A forward-selection stepwise method was applied. 
Study 2
Sadlier and colleagues (2010) used a retrospective quasi-experimental design to examine ETS. This evaluation differed from the previous 2003 study by Friendship and colleagues by including dynamic risk factor variables and other rich static risk factors into the model to improve matching between study groups. One-year reconviction outcomes for the treatment group were compared with those in a matched comparison group who did not participate in ETS. Pairs were matched across 42 variables using radius matching. There were no significant differences between treatment and control groups. 
Data was collected from four administrative data sets. The first set included the Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction (SPCR) prisoner survey sample, which measures dynamic risk factors such as attitudes about offending, drug use, and motivation. The second set came from the Offending Behavior Programme Interventions Database, which measured when the offender participated in ETS. The third set, from Offender Assessment System (OASys), provided data from a needs and static risk assessment that included information such as age, gender, marital status, and family criminal history. Lastly, the Police National Computer (PNC) measured criminal history and reconviction data. The final sample consisted of 2,771 individuals, 87 percent of which were men and 13 percent of which were women. Of this total sample, 257 prisoners were treated through ETS participation; this left 2,514 individuals from which to select matches via propensity score matching. 
Study 3
Travers and colleagues (2013) used an observational evaluation to compare reconviction outcomes of 17,047 male prisoners serving a minimum sentence of 1 year who had participated in ETS with those of a 19,792-participant control group who had not participated in ETS. The program sample was 79.2 percent white, 13.3 percent black, 5.1 percent Asian, and 0.4 percent other. The mean age at release for the program sample was 30 years. The control group was 80.9 percent white, 11.3 percent black, 5.6 percent Asian, and 0.6 percent other. The mean age at release for the control group was 29 years. 
Measurements were taken 2 years following release. Reconviction data was collected via the Home Office Police National Computer (HOPNC). A risk of reconviction score, within 2 years of release, was calculated using the Offender Group Reconviction Scale (OGRS). Chi-square tests were used to determine differences in reconviction rates among different risk groups.

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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

Study 1
Friendship, Caroline, Linda Blud, Matthew Erikson, Rosie Travers, and David Thornton. 2003. “Cognitive-Behavioural Treatment for Imprisoned Offenders: An Evaluation of HM Prison Service’s Cognitive Skills Programmes.” Legal and Criminological Psychology 8:103–14.

Study 2
Sadlier, Greg. 2010. Evaluation of the Impact of the HM Prison Service Enhanced Thinking Skills Programme on Reoffending Outcomes of the Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction (SPCR) Sample. Ministry of Justice Research Series 19/10.

Study 3
Travers, Rosie, Helen C. Wakeling, Ruth E. Mann, and Clive R. Hollin. 2013. “Reconviction Following a Cognitive Skills Intervention: An Alternative Quasi-Experimental Methodology.” Legal and Criminological Psychology 18:48–65.

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Related Practices

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Following are practices that are related to this program:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Moderate- and High-Risk Adult Offenders
This is a problem-focused, therapeutic approach that attempts to help people identify and change dysfunctional beliefs, thoughts, and patterns of behavior that contribute to their problems. For adult offenders, CBT teaches them how cognitive deficits, distortion, and flawed thinking processes can lead to criminal behavior. The practice is rated Promising for reducing crime committed by moderate- and high-risk adult offenders.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
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Program Snapshot

Age: 18+

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, White, Other

Setting (Delivery): Correctional

Program Type: Aftercare/Reentry, Cognitive Behavioral Treatment

Targeted Population: Prisoners

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: National Reentry Resource Center