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Research 101: A Process for Developing Local Guidelines for Ethical Research in Heavily Researched Communities

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-07-01
Abstract: 

Background: Marginalized communities often attract more than their share of research. Too often, this research benefits researchers disproportionately and leaves such communities feeling exploited, misrepresented, and exhausted. The Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighborhood of Vancouver, Canada, has been the site of multiple public health epidemics related to injection drug use as well as the site of much community-led resistance and struggle that has led to the development of cutting-edge harm reduction interventions (e.g., North America’s first supervised injection facility, Insite) and a strong sense of community organization. This background has made the DTES one of the most heavily researched communities in the world. Amidst ongoing experiences of unethical or disrespectful research engagement in the neighborhood, a collaboration between local academic researchers and community representatives developed to explore how we could work together to encourage more respectful, community-responsive research and discourage exploitative or disrespectful research.

Methods: We developed a series of six weekly workshops called “Research 101.” These workshops brought together approximately 13 representatives from peer-based organizations in the DTES with a variety of experiences with research. Research 101 created space for community members themselves to discuss the pitfalls and potential of research in their neighborhood and to express community expectations for more ethical and respectful research.

Results: We summarized workshop discussions in a co-authored “Manifesto for Ethical Research in the Downtown Eastside.” This document serves as a resource to empower community organizations to develop more equitable partnerships with researchers and help researchers ground their work in the principles of locally developed “community ethics.” Manifesto guidelines include increased researcher transparency, community-based ethical review of projects, empowering peer researchers in meaningful roles within a research project, and taking seriously the need for reciprocity in the research exchange.

Conclusions: Research 101 was a process for eliciting and presenting a local vision of “community ethics” in a heavily researched neighborhood to guide researchers and empower community organizations. Our ongoing work involves building consensus for these guidelines within the community and communicating these expectations to researchers and ethics offices at local universities. We also describe how our Research 101 process could be replicated in other heavily researched communities.

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Article
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Evaluating the Psycholegal Abilities of Young Offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-02-01
Abstract: 

Individuals with a diagnosis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) experience a range of physical, cognitive, and behavioral deficits thought to interfere with their ability to competently navigate the arrest, interrogation, and trial process. This study examined the psycholegal abilities of young offenders with FASD, including their understanding and appreciation of Miranda rights, and adjudication capacities (factual knowledge of criminal procedure, appreciation of the nature and object of the proceedings, ability to participate in a defense and communicate with counsel). Two groups of young offenders (50 with FASD and 50 without prenatal alcohol exposure) completed Grisso’s Instruments for Assessing Understanding and Appreciation of Miranda rights and the Fitness Interview Test-Revised in order to assess overall rates of impairment in youth with FASD, as well as differences between the groups. Potentially important predictors of psycholegal abilities were also evaluated. Results indicated the majority of young offenders with FASD (90%) showed impairment in at least one psycholegal ability, and rates of impairment were significantly higher than the comparison group. However, considerable within-group variability was observed. IQ and reading comprehension emerged as robust predictors of participants’ psycholegal abilities; while the FASD diagnosis differentiated participants’ scores on the FIT-R. These findings underscore the importance of individualized and comprehensive forensic assessments of psycholegal abilities in this population when warranted. Additional system level strains for this population are discussed, including problems in approaching competency remediation, and the potentially growing need for accommodation and forensic assessments in the face of limited financial and professional resources in legal settings.

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Article
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An Evaluation of the Predictive Validity of the SAVRY and YLS/CMI in Justice-Involved Youth with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-12
Abstract: 

Despite the high prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in youth criminal justice settings, there is currently no research supporting the use of violence risk assessment tools in this population. This study examined the predictive validity of total and domain scores on the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) and the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI) in justice-involved youth with FASD. Participants were 100 justice-involved youth (ages 12 to 23, 81% male), including 50 diagnosed with FASD and 50 without FASD or prenatal alcohol exposure. The SAVRY and YLS/CMI were prospectively coded based on interview and file review, with recidivism (both any and violent specifically) coded one-year post baseline assessment. Results provide preliminary support for the validity of the SAVRY and YLS/CMI in predicting recidivism in justice-involved youth with FASD. Higher ratings across SAVRY and YLS/CMI domains were found in youth with FASD, underscoring a critical need for assessments and interventions to buffer recidivism risk and address clinical needs.

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Article
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Electrophysiological Correlates of Visual Singleton Detection

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-03-20
Abstract: 

Identifying a fixed-feature singleton that pops out from an otherwise uniform array of distractors elicits an event-related potential (ERP) component called the N2pc over the posterior scalp. The N2pc has been used to track attention with millisecond accuracy, inform theories of visual selection, and test for specific attention deficits in clinical populations, yet it is still unclear what neuro-cognitive process gives rise to the component. One hypothesis is that the N2pc reflects a spatial filtering process that suppresses irrelevant distractors. In support of this hypothesis, Luck and Hillyard (1994) showed that the N2pc is eliminated when the features of the target and distractors switch unpredictably across trials so that participants cannot prepare to filter out irrelevant items. The present study aimed to replicate Luck and Hillyard’s singleton detection experiment, but with modifications to enhance the N2pc signal and to gain statistical power. We show that orientation singletons do, in fact, elicit the N2pc as well as an earlier-onsetting and longer-lasting singleton detection positivity (SDP) over the occipital scalp when the target and distractor orientations swap randomly across trials. We conclude that spatial filtering might not play a major role in the generation of the N2pc and that the selection processes required to search for fixed-feature targets (in feature-search mode) are also engaged in the detection of variable-feature singletons (in singleton-detection mode).

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Article
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Psychopathy and Violent Misconduct in a Sample of Violent Young Offenders

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015-06-24
Abstract: 

Purpose: Most prior research on psychopathy and institutional misconduct/violence occurs with adult samples and comparatively less is known about the nature of this relationship among serious, violent juvenile offenders.

Methods: A subsample of 159 male serious and violent offenders interviewed in custody facilities in British Columbia, Canada as part of the Vancouver Longitudinal Study of Incarcerated Young Offenders were used. Bivariate, AUC-ROC, and Poisson regression models examined the association between psychopathy and violent misconduct and exposure to violence with different specifications and separately for Caucasian and Aboriginal youth.

Results: Overall, psychopathic youth evince more misconduct, are more violent, and break more institutional rules than their less psychopathic peers; however, the effects are relatively small, and ROC-AUC models reveal generally unimpressive classification accuracy.

Conclusions: Although psychopathy is a risk factor for violent misconduct, its effects are measurement-variant (e.g., total scores, factor scores, and item scores) and differ for Caucasian and Aboriginal serious offenders.

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Article
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A Conceptual Framework for Thinking About Physician-Assisted Death for Persons With a Mental Disorder

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2016-05
Abstract: 

Physician-assisted death (PAD) has been enacted in a number of international jurisdictions, with several extending access to PAD for persons whose condition is not terminal, including those with a mental disorder.  We argue that based on the state of the literature, it is too early to make well-defined recommendations on how relevant fields can proceed legally, ethically, and clinically, particularly in regard to PAD for persons with a mental disorder.  The aim of this paper is to introduce a framework for further discussions on PAD for persons with a mental disorder to stimulate thoughtful and considered debate in our field.  We provide a brief discussion of the principles that guide regulatory frameworks on PAD practices worldwide, including a discussion of jurisdictions in Europe and North America that allow PAD for those suffering from an incurable non-terminal disease, illness, or disability.  Next, we present a conceptual framework as a series of questions that address legal, ethical, and clinical dilemmas arising from this trend.  We conclude with a summary of guidelines on the practice of PAD from international jurisdictions in order to assist in the development of potential legal and professional regulations.

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Article
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Assessing Protective Factors for Adolescent Offending: A Conceptually Informed Examination of the SAVRY and YLS/CMI

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-05-02
Abstract: 

Although the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) and the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI) are among the most widely used adolescent risk assessment tools, they conceptualize and measure strengths differently.  As such, in this study, we compared the predictive validity of SAVRY Protective Total and YLS/CMI Strength Total, and tested conceptual models of how these measures operate (i.e., risk vs. protective effects, direct vs. buffering effects, causal models).  Research assistants conducted 624 risk assessments with 156 youth on probation. They rated protective factors at baseline, and again at 3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-month follow-up periods.  The SAVRY Protective Total and YLS/CMI Strength Total inversely predicted any charges in the subsequent two years (area under the curve scores [AUCs] = .61 and .60, respectively, p < .05).  Furthermore, when adolescents’ protective total scores increased, their self-reported violence decreased, thus providing evidence that these factors might play a causally-relevant role in reducing violence.  However, protective factors did not provide incremental validity over risk factors.  In addition, because these measures are brief and use a dichotomous rating system, they primarily captured deficits in protective factors (i.e., low scores).  This suggests a need for more comprehensive measures.

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Article
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Questioning Fairness: The Relationship of Mental Health and Psychopathic Characteristics with Young Offenders’ Perceptions of Procedural Justice and Legitimacy

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2016-06-13
Abstract: 

Background: Theories of procedural justice suggest that individuals who experience the processes and procedures used to make legal decisions as fair are more likely to perceive the legal system as legitimate, and in turn, less likely to offend.  When individuals come into contact with the legal system, however, they are not blank slates but have beliefs and personality characteristics that may systematically influence their perception of justice and legitimacy.  Aims: Our aim was to establish the extent to which personal characteristics, whether demographic, legal or clinical, influence the degree to which young people experience the justice system as fair and legitimate. Method: Self-report, file, and interview data were collected from 92 12-17 year-olds on probation in Western Canada. Results: There was some relationship between scores on the youth version of the psychopathy checklist and perceptions of fairness and legitimacy, and between substance misuse and the justice variables, but after taking all significant variables into consideration, history of major traumatic experience was the only one to be independently associated with perceptions of justice. Those in the youngest age group in our sample were more likely to have positive perceptions of justice than the older, but demographics and legal history otherwise seemed irrelevant. Conclusions:  Our findings suggest that examining personal qualities and experiences which may have a relationship the relationship with perceptions of procedural justice and legitimacy are worth exploring further. It may be that young people who do not accept the law as legitimate or the criminal justice system as fair could be more likely to offend.

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Article
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Do Risk Assessment Tools Help to Manage and Reduce Risk of Violence and Reoffending? A Systematic Review

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-06
Abstract: 

Although it is widely believed that risk assessment tools can help manage risk of violence and offending, it is unclear what evidence exists to support this view.  As such, we conducted a systematic review and narrative synthesis.  To identify studies, we searched 13 databases, reviewed reference lists, and contacted experts.  Through this review, we identified 73 published and unpublished studies (N = 31,551 psychiatric patients and offenders, N = 10,002 professionals) that examined either professionals’ risk management efforts following the use of a tool, or rates of violence or offending following the implementation of a tool.  These studies included a variety of populations (e.g., adults, adolescents), tools, and study designs.    The primary findings were as follows: (1) despite some promising findings, professionals do not consistently adhere to tools or apply them to guide their risk management efforts; (2) following the use of a tool, match to the risk principle is moderate and match to the needs principle is limited, as many needs remained unaddressed; (3) there is insufficient evidence to conclude that tools directly reduce violence or reoffending, as findings are mixed; and (4) tools appear to have a more beneficial impact on risk management when agencies use careful implementation procedures and provide staff with training and guidelines related to risk management.  In sum, although risk assessment tools may be an important starting point, they do not guarantee effective treatment or risk management.  However, certain strategies may bolster their utility.

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Article
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Primary Study Quality in Psychological Meta-Analyses: An Empirical Assessment of Recent Practice

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-01-09
Abstract: 

As meta-analytic research has come to occupy a sizeable contingent of published work in the psychological sciences, clarity in the reporting of such work is crucial to its interpretability and reproducibility. This is especially true regarding the assessment of primary study quality, as notions of study quality can vary across research domains. The present study examines the general state of reporting practices related to primary study quality in a sample of 382 published psychological meta-analyses, as well as the reporting decisions and motivations of the authors that published them. Our findings suggest adherence to reporting standards has remained poor for assessments of primary study quality and that the discipline remains inconsistent in its reporting practices generally. We discuss several potential reasons for the poor adherence to reporting standards in our sample, including whether quality assessments are being conducted in the first place, whether standards are well-known within the discipline, and the potential conflation of assessing primary study quality with other facets of conducting a meta-analysis. The implications of suboptimal reporting practices related to primary study quality are discussed.

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Article
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