Motivational Interventions With Probationers: A Consideration of Outcome Effects in Terms of Drug Use, New Criminal Activity and HIV Risk Behaviors

Steven S. Martin, University of Delaware
Hilary L. Surratt, University of Delaware
James A. Inciardi, University of Delaware
Ronald A. Beard, University of Delaware
Daniel J. O'Connell, University of Delaware
Clifford A. Butzin, University of Delaware

Motivational interviewing has become popular in intervention and treatment programs as a means of raising clients' awareness of risk and protective factors in a variety of areas. In this paper we examine a sample of 600 probationers representative of the supervised probationer population in Delaware. The sample respondents receive a baseline interview, then they are randomly selected to receive either the NIDA standard HIV/drug intervention or a focused intervention based on a cognitive thought-mapping model that addresses criminal behavior as well. Intervention boosters are offered at two follow-up intervals in the following 3 months, and all participants are reinterviewed at 6 months. Analyses focus on the interventions' effectiveness in changing attitudes and behaviors at the 6-month interview related to drug use, sexual risk behaviors, and criminal activity. The data support the conclusion that the focused intervention produces more risk reduction than the NIDA standard, but there are differences in the effects in each of the domains of drug, sex, and criminal risk activity. Discussion centers on examining the correlates that seem to specify the impact of the interventions and the need to consider such factors in selecting the appropriate interventions for probationers. New strategies for intervening with probationers are particularly important. Recent work by our group has found that probationers in Delaware have levels of injection drug use, other serious drug use, rates of risky sexual behaviors, combinations of both drug and sexual risk behaviors, and past arrest history -- all virtually equivalent to those in our prison populations. Since probationers have more opportunities to engage in drug, sex, and crime risk behaviors than do prisoners, the importance of interventions with probationers is readily apparent.

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Updated 05/20/2006