This is especially true in the case of tertiary prevention programs, i.e., those that aim to deradicalize individuals, disengage them from extremist groups, and reintegrate them into society. In 2010, Horgan and Braddock concluded that a) no systematic effort had been made to analyze such programs or initiatives; b) there were no explicit criteria for what was considered a successful outcome; and c) despite the widely publicized success of these programs by certain governments, little data existed that could independently corroborate this success. This means that available information regarding the effectiveness of tertiary prevention programs remains to be a matter of informed opinion rather than clear empirical evidence. In addition, many studies claim to be “evaluations” despite not meeting the basic standards expected of such types of studies. This is a serious issue because the implementation of prevention programs, without adequate knowledge about their potential outcomes and impact, may ultimately be counterproductive, stigmatizing, and lead to greater harms than benefits.
To address this knowledge gap, CPN-PREV conducted a systematic review of the literature on the effectiveness of tertiary prevention programs in the field of violent radicalization. The goals of our systematic review were as follows:
- To describe the outcomes of tertiary PVE programs in terms of reducing the risk of violent radicalization;
- To identify specific program modalities associated with a higher chance of success or failure for the targeted populations;
- To assess the quality of the literature in order to identify knowledge gaps and studies that should be given more (or less) weight in the interpretation of results; and
- To formulate preliminary recommendations for program providers, policymakers, practitioners, and researchers working in the field of PVE.
The review aimed to provide a reliable, trusted, and valid knowledge base for the development of evidence-based guidelines that would speak to practitioners, researchers, and deciders from multiple sectors.