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A Meta-analysis of Cognitive Functioning in Intimate Partner Violence Perpetrators.

Neuropsychology Review 2023 December 13
Numerous psychologists have shown interest in applying neuropsychological tests to study intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetrators and gain a further understanding of the underlying nature of this type of violence. However, up until now, no meta-analysis has drawn on all the available scientific literature to calculate whether consistent differences exist between the neuropsychological performance of IPV perpetrators and other samples of men (non-violent men, IPV perpetrators with drug misuse, and other men with criminal history). The aim of this study was to carry out this calculation and also measure whether neuropsychological performance explained IPV perpetration. We conducted a meta-analysis following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) criteria. After initially identifying 7243 sources, we eventually included a total of 25 publications. The number of studies included for effect size calculation in each cognitive domain ranged from two to nine. Taking solely into account studies comparing IPV perpetrators with non-violent men, our findings indicate that both IPV perpetrators who misuse drugs and those who do not exhibit worse neuropsychological functioning compared to non-violent men. These differences range from moderate to large for working memory, switching attention, cognitive flexibility, planning abilities, and phonemic fluency. However, while low functioning in response IQ was only observed in IPV perpetrators without drug misuse, continuous attention performance only differed in IPV perpetrators with drug misuse. It should be noted that most conclusions were consistent. In addition, the comparison between IPV perpetrator subsamples and other types of criminal convictions only revealed differences in switching attention, with IPV perpetrators presenting worse abilities than the rest of the subsamples. Finally, we also found some support for significant associations between neuropsychological performance and both physical and psychological IPV perpetration. This meta-analysis is a significant contribution that will help inform future clinical strategies for the early detection of cognitive needs. It will also guide the implementation of new or complementary intervention programs.

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