The predictive validity of the family risk survey and child risk survey for identifying persistent firesetting risk

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Dadswell, Kara ORCID: 0000-0003-3192-7960, Sambol, Stjepan ORCID: 0000-0002-1969-8192, Bruck, Dorothy and Ball, Michelle ORCID: 0000-0002-4056-6178 (2022) The predictive validity of the family risk survey and child risk survey for identifying persistent firesetting risk. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 79 (2). pp. 573-585. ISSN 0021-9762


Young firesetter behavior poses significant risks to individuals and communities. Intervention is important to mitigate youth firesetting, and treatment needs vary depending on underlying motives. Effective screening of persistent firesetter risk to inform intervention approach is critical to ensure appropriate matching of risk and needs. This study aimed to evaluate the utility of the child risk survey (CRS) and family risk survey (FRS) for predicting persistent firesetting risk, and subsequent triaging of cases toward the appropriate treatment. A total of 61 families engaged with the Firelighting Consequences Awareness Program, Melbourne, Australia, completed the CRS and FRS preintervention, and reported their firesetting behavior 1-year postintervention. The CRS was not effective for correctly predicting persistent and nonpersistent firesetters. The FRS was successful at predicting persistent firesetters 85% of the time, but had a high rate of false positives, overclassifying nonpersistent firesetters as high risk. Finally, the actual rate of firesetters that would be deemed suitable for each of the three recommended interventions based on the CRS and FRS scoring protocols was substantially different to the expected rates described in the accompanying manual. Implications for service provision are discussed.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1002/jclp.23435
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Current > Division/Research > College of Health and Biomedicine
Keywords fire setting, fire setting behaviour, risk survey, risk identification, intervention
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