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Psychiatric morbidity and treatment needs among prisoners

Jakobowitz, S; (2015) Psychiatric morbidity and treatment needs among prisoners. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Background Epidemiological surveys consistently show that levels of psychiatric morbidity in prisons are very high. Prevalence rates of mental disorder are only imperfect predictors of treatment need. Government policy states that mental health service provision ought to be based on an assessment of need. Yet few assessments of mental health needs among prisoners exist in the academic literature. Method 368 male and female prisoners were interviewed using the same diagnostic instruments used in the National Prison Survey of Psychiatric Morbidity (Singelton et al., 1998) for the purpose of comparing the two samples according to sex and sentencing status. The MRC Needs for Care Assessment was used to determine the treatment needs of each prisoner and the extent to which they had been met. Results Prevalence rates of psychiatric disorders were broadly in line with those found in the National Prison Survey of Psychiatric Morbidity. There was only partial overlap between diagnosis and adjudged needs for treatment. Depression, alcohol and drug abuse were the most commonly identified problems in the sample. In total 78.1% of prisoners had at least one treatment need. Women had significantly higher numbers of overall treatment needs but men had significantly higher levels of unmet needs. In total around half of all treatment needs were met. The number of treatment needs and levels of unmet needs did not differ significantly between sentenced and remand prisoners. Conclusions This study identified high levels of psychiatric treatment needs among the sample when compared to the general population, suggesting a filtering system by which the mentally ill come preferentially into the prison system. Failed detection of mental illness and under resourcing of services are the biggest barriers to the adequate provision of mental health care in prison. Results from this study should enable improved service planning for this vulnerable population.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Psychiatric morbidity and treatment needs among prisoners
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1470423
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