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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2009 Mar;119(3):180-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2008.01300.x. Epub 2008 Nov 10.

Severe mental illness and criminal victimization: a systematic review.

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Department of Pedagogic, Psychological, and Didactic Sciences, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy.



To estimate the prevalence of criminal victimization among people with severe mental illness and to explore risk factors.


Four databases (MEDLINE, ScienceDirect, ERIC, and AMED) were searched for articles published between January 1966 and August 2007, supplemented with hand-search of reference lists from retrieved papers. The author and a Medical Doctor independently abstracted data and assessed study quality. Disagreements were resolved by consensus after review of the article and the review protocol.


Nine studies, including 5195 patients, were identified. Prevalence estimates of criminal victimization ranged from 4.3% to 35.04%. Rates of victimization among severely mentally ill persons were 2.3-140.4 times higher than those in the general population. Criminal victimization was most frequently associated with alcohol and/or illicit drug use/abuse, homelessness, more severe symptomatology, and engagement in criminal activity.


Prevention and intervention programs should target high-risk groups and improve patients' mental health and quality of life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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