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Am J Psychiatry. 1991 Feb;148(2):236-9.

Hidden severe psychiatric morbidity in sentenced prisoners: an Australian study.

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1
Department of Psychological Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The aim of this survey was to estimate the prevalence of severe mental disorders in a representative sample of sentenced prisoners.

METHOD:

The subjects were selected as a random sample of sentenced prisoners in Melbourne's three metropolitan prisons. Interviews were conducted with 158 men and 31 women. Clinicians used the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R (SCID) to diagnose psychotic, affective, and substance use disorders.

RESULTS:

Six prisoners (3%) received current diagnoses of psychotic disorders, and 23 (12%) were diagnosed as having current mood disorders, mainly major depression. A lifetime diagnosis of at least one mental disorder each was made for 82% of the respondents, and in 26% more than one lifetime disorder was diagnosed. Sixty-nine percent received lifetime diagnoses of dependence on or abuse of alcohol, other psychoactive substances, or a combination of these.

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings do not indicate a large-scale shift of deinstitutionalized psychotically ill people from mental hospitals to prisons. They do, however, highlight the diversion into the corrections system of substance-dependent people and the apparent pool of prisoners with largely untreated major depression.

PMID:
1987824
DOI:
10.1176/ajp.148.2.236
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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