Prevalence in criminal offenders

What is prevalence?

Many studies have reported a high prevalence of various health problems, including mental health problems, among people in forensic settings. Prevalence represents the overall proportion of individuals in a population who have the disorder of interest. It is different from incidence, which represents only the new cases that have developed over a particular time period. Point prevalence is the proportion of individuals in a population who have the disorder at a given point in time (e.g., at one-month post-trauma), while period prevalence is the proportion of individuals in a population who have the disorder over specific time periods (e.g., one to two months post-trauma). Lifetime prevalence is the proportion of individuals in a population who have ever had the disorder and lifetime morbid risk also includes those who had the disorder but were deceased at the time of the survey.

What is the evidence for the prevalence of PTSD in criminal offenders?

Moderate quality evidence finds the point prevalence in male prisoners is 6.2%, and in female prisoners it is 21.1%. One-year prevalence in male prisoners is 9.9%, and in female prisoners it is 26.1%. Lifetime prevalence in male prisoners is 17.8%, and in female prisoners it is 40.4%. These rates are significantly higher in females than males, and are also significantly higher in studies conducted in high-income countries when compared to low income countries.

Moderate quality evidence finds the point prevalence of PTSD in adolescent males in detention centres is 8.6%, and it is 18.2% in adolescent females in detention centres. Moderate to low quality evidence finds the point prevalence of PTSD older prisoners (>50 years) is 6.2% (males and females combined).

August 2021

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Last updated at: 12:45 am, 4th August 2021
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