Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Dynamic Risk Factors and their Utilisation in Case Formulation: A New Conceptual Framework

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posted on 2021-11-15, 22:13 authored by Palmer, Lauren

The social pressure on policy makers and clinicians working with sexual offenders to reduce recidivism is extreme. A result of this pressure is the amount of research investigating risk-related features that has surged over the last few decades. Risk assessment has progressed from unstructured clinical judgement to development of risk factors that correlate with recidivism to predict levels of risk, and more recently, to forensic case formulation. This thesis concentrates on two key issues with forensic case formulation that has been largely neglected thus far. First, forensic case formulations rely heavily on the use of dynamic risk factors as causes of offending. The concern is that dynamic risk factors are composite constructs not causal mechanisms. Second, forensic case formulation models do not explain how to use an offender’s information and their risk factors to hypothesise about the cause of their offending leading to issues of reliability. To address these issues, the RECFM consists of five phases that guides clinicians on how to appropriately use forensic case formulation. The Risk Etiology Case Formulation Model (RECFM) aims to incorporate a reconceptualised version of dynamic risk factors using an Agency Model to identify the interaction of agent and context that causes offending behaviour. By using the RECFM, treatment can be targeted to the individual and their specific causes of offending, which will lead to better results in reducing recidivism. The aim of this thesis is to provide a forensic case formulation model is comprehensible for clinicians and that targets the causes of offending.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Science

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and the Cognitive sciences

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Psychology


Ward, Tony