A systematic review exploring the role of gender in staffs experience of working with sexual offenders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – Although literature surrounding sexual criminality is growing; with recent research, this paper
aims to focus more upon burnout and emotional impact in therapists who study with sex offenders, little is
known about possible gender differences in their experiences.
Design/methodology/approach – The study presents a systematic review that aims to provide an
impartial critical examination of relevant existing literature, with the main aim of exploring the role of
gender (both the staff members and the clients) in staffs’ experience of working with sexual offenders.
Findings – Findings retrieved 10 eligible studies indicating evidence of the influential role in which
gender plays in the experienced staff may have when working with sexual offenders. Studies within the
review demonstrated variability in views towards sexual offenders across genders; with studies finding
female staff to hold more positive perceptions of sexual offenders. Further evidence suggested a global
impact of working with the client group; with professionals holding differential and largely more positive
views of sexual offenders than the general public. However, an adverse impact of working with sexual
offenders was highlighted, particularly for staff who have worked longest within their role or have
increased frequency of contact.
Research limitations/implications – Limitations were highlighted in relation to the reviews ability to truly
explore gender; given there are no current studies within this research area defining gender beyond male
and female, losing the voices of those non-binary and transgendered individuals.
Practical implications – The paper includes implications for staff working with sexual offenders;
including adverse affects of the clinical contact and the impact of working with same/opposing gendered
clients. Research also takes a gender informed stance in exploring how staff gender impacts the
relationships with sexual offenders, and the effect this may have on client outcomes.
Originality/value – Research is the first of its kind in taking a systematic approach to exploring the
current literature surrounding staffs experiences of working with sexual offenders, through a gender
informed lens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-383
JournalJournal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2021


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