Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Efficacy for Reducing Recidivism Rates of Moderate- and High-Risk Sexual Offenders: A Scoping Systematic Literature Review

Int J Offender Ther Comp Criminol. 2018 Jan;62(1):170-186. doi: 10.1177/0306624X16644501. Epub 2016 Apr 26.


This literature scoping review compared recidivism rates of moderate- and high-risk sexual offenders who received cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) oriented treatments. Ten empirical studies from 2001 to 2014 were selected for review that met the following criteria: (a) Treatment program included a CBT-based intervention with a comparative intervention; (b) participants included adult, male, moderate- and high-risk sexual offenders only; and (c) follow-up data for up to 12 months. Data were analyzed using a summative metric for recidivism rate comparisons ( N = 3,073 for CBT and N = 3,588, for comparison approaches). Sexual offense recidivism rates varied from 0.6% to 21.8% (with CBT) and from 4.5% to 32.3% (with comparison intervention). The within-sample median rate of violent recidivism with a history of sexual offense was 21.1% (with CBT) versus 32.6% (comparison). Sexual offenders had a general felonies (within-sample) median recidivism rate of 27.05% (with CBT) versus 51.05% (comparison). The evidence supports the conclusion that CBT in its various forms is an efficacious treatment modality to prevent offense recidivism by sexual offenders. Suggestions for future research are considered.

Keywords: cognitive-behavioral therapy; corrections; recidivism; sexual offenders; violence.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Recidivism / prevention & control*
  • Sex Offenses / prevention & control*