People's reasons for wanting to complete probation: Use and predictive validity in an e-health intervention

Stephanie A. Spohr, Faye S. Taxman, Scott T. Walters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The criminal justice system tends to emphasize external contingencies (e.g., fees, jail time) to motivate offender compliance. However, people's reasons for desistance vary considerably. This study evaluated the acceptability, utility, and predictive validity of questions that ask about people's reasons for wanting to successfully complete probation. Substance-using probationers (N = 113) participated in a web-based computer intervention that targeted substance use and treatment initiation. Questions around seven dimensions of reasons for completing probation were developed to provide tailored feedback during the web-based program. A principle components factor analysis found that survey items loaded onto two distinct factors. Factor one, “Tangible Loss” focused on external and present-focused reasons. Factor two, “Better Life” focused on internal and future-focused reasons. There was a significant negative association between Better Life scores and days of substance use after two months (β = −0.31, SE = 0.13, p < 0.05). There was a significant positive association with Better Life scores and days of treatment attendance (β = 1.46, SE = 0.26, p < 0.001). Tangible Loss scores were no associated with substance use and treatment attendance. These findings may help to create more effective motivational tracks in e-health interventions, and may complement traditional motivation measures with an explicit focus on people's stated reasons for wanting to complete probation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-149
Number of pages6
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • Behavior change
  • Criminal justice
  • Factor analysis
  • Substance abuse


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