Pedophilia: An Evaluation of Diagnostic and Risk Prediction Methods Journal Articles uri icon

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  • One hundred thirty child sexual abusers were diagnosed using each of following four methods: (a) phallometric testing, (b) strict application of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., text revision [DSM-IV-TR]) criteria, (c) Rapid Risk Assessment of Sex Offender Recidivism (RRASOR) scores, and (d) “expert” diagnoses rendered by a seasoned clinician. Comparative utility and intermethod consistency of these methods are reported, along with recidivism data indicating predictive validity for risk management. Results suggest that inconsistency exists in diagnosing pedophilia, leading to diminished accuracy in risk assessment. Although the RRASOR and DSM-IV-TR methods were significantly correlated with expert ratings, RRASOR and DSM-IV-TR were unrelated to each other. Deviant arousal was not associated with any of the other methods. Only the expert ratings and RRASOR scores were predictive of sexual recidivism. Logistic regression analyses showed that expert diagnosis did not add to prediction of sexual offence recidivism over and above RRASOR alone. Findings are discussed within a context of encouragement of clinical consistency and evidence-based practice regarding treatment and risk management of those who sexually abuse children.


  • Wilson, Robin
  • Abracen, Jeffrey
  • Looman, Jan
  • Picheca, Janice E
  • Ferguson, Meaghan

publication date

  • June 2011