Systematic reviews help reveal new measures

3 May, 2010
Systematic reviews help us find our way amongst vast amounts of research findings.

Illustration by Helena Halvarsson

Systematic reviews help us find our way amongst vast amounts of research findings. Brå has published nine such studies within various areas.
Drawing your own conclusions in relation to a constantly growing body of research is often difficult. In an attempt to single out effective measures intended to combat crime, Brå (The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention) has initiated the publication of a series of systematic reviews, in which internationally renowned researchers are commissioned to perform the studies on our behalf.

In all, nine studies have been produced of the effects of various crime preventing measures in areas ranging from anti-bullying programmes in schools to interventions with adult male violent offenders.

Self-control and interventions

The two latest international systematic reviews from Brå focus on self-control and intervention. Much attention has been paid in both criminology and psychology to the importance of self-control in regulating the individual´s antisocial, delinquent or criminal behaviour. In a new study of 34 evaluations of self-control programmes, authors Piquero, Jennings and Farrington show that, before the age of ten, interventions aimed at improving socialization and child-rearing practices offers benefits for the development of self-control and the reduction of crime. Jolliffe and Farrington, authors of another study focusing on interventions with adult male violent offenders, found that interventions with violent offenders are successful in reducing general re-offending and violent re-offending. The study concludes that in light of the considerable harm caused to victims and costs incurred by society, the treatment of violent offenders should be a priority.

Provides us with the overall picture

Systematic reviews combine a number of evaluations that are considered to satisfy a list of empirical criteria for measuring effects as reliably as possible. The results of these evaluations are then used to calculate and produce an overall picture of the effects that a given measure does and does not produce. Systematic reviews aim to systematically combine the results from a number of studies in order to produce a more reliable overview of the opportunities and limitations associated with a given crime prevention strategy.