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Public Health Rep. 1983 Sep-Oct;98(5):449-57.

Health profiles of early adolescent delinquents.


Comparison of the health status of 53 delinquent and 51 nondelinquent boys revealed that 57 percent of the delinquents, as compared with 20 percent of the nondelinquents, had experienced two or more serious adverse health events (such as hospitalization, loss of consciousness, or an automobile accident). Physical examinations revealed many more conditions requiring intervention in the delinquent than in the nondelinquent boys. Major differences in the two groups' use of health care were apparent: 34 percent of the delinquents either had no medical care or had used only the emergency room, as contrasted with only 8 percent of the nondelinquents. An overall health index that was used to compare the two groups remained statistically significant for a subset of 16 pairs matched on socioeconomic indicators. These results do not imply an etiological link between health status and delinquency, but they do suggest a strong de facto link. The recurrent hospitalizations of the delinquent boys, their substantial use of medications, and their episodic use of health care underscore the importance of an awareness on the part of public health personnel of this group's medical status and of the urgent need for adequately planning the health care of all youngsters in the juvenile justice system.

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