Psychological interventions for women with intellectual disabilities and forensic care needs: a systematic review of the literature

M. Hellenbach, M. Brown*, T. Karatzias, R. Robinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Research evidence to date concerning offending by people with intellectual disabilities (ID) has concentrated on male perpetrators and little is known about their female counterparts. This systematic literature review examines evidence on psycho-social therapies for the female intellectually disabled population within healthcare forensic facilities. 

Methods: A search of health, psychology and social science databases was conducted, using a varying combination of search words to detect relevant literature for this review. Four studies published between 2001 and 2012 were identified for inclusion. Articles were organised and compared in relation to study characteristics, sample, kind of treatment, instruments used to measure treatment impact, and study findings. 

Findings: In total, four studies were identified that met the inclusion criteria. A range of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)-orientated group interventions for people with learning disabilities were evaluated and in most studies improvements were reported in relation to reducing problem behaviour. Evidence that has been generated by the studies is, however, limited in its explanatory value because of study design and related methodological issues. 

Conclusions: This review has identified a significant gap in relation to research-based therapies for women with ID and forensic care needs. In particular, more research is needed focusing on women with a dual diagnosis of ID and psychiatric disorder who present challenging or criminal behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-331
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number4
Early online date09 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


  • Female offenders
  • Forensic care
  • Intellectual disability
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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