Psychiatric disorders in women prisoners who have engaged in near-lethal self-harm: case–control study

Marzano, Lisa ORCID logoORCID:, Fazel, Seena, Rivlin, Adrienne and Hawton, Keith (2010) Psychiatric disorders in women prisoners who have engaged in near-lethal self-harm: case–control study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 197 (3) . pp. 219-226. ISSN 0007-1250 [Article] (doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.109.075424)


Female prisoners are 20 times more likely to die by suicide
than women of the same age in the general population.
However, risk factors and indicators of vulnerability for
suicide in this group are not well-known.
We investigated prevalence of psychiatric disorders in
women prisoners who had recently engaged in near-lethal
self-harm (cases) and others who had never carried out
near-lethal attempts in prison (controls).
We interviewed 60 cases and 60 controls from all closed
female prison establishments in England and Wales. In
addition to gathering details of sociodemographic,
criminological and clinical history, we assessed participants’ current and lifetime disorders using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Associations between near-lethal self-harm and psychiatric disorders were adjusted for age, educational qualifications (any v. none) and remand status (sentenced v. unsentenced).
At the time of their near-lethal self-harm, 53 cases (88%)
were on ACCT (Assessment, Care in Custody and
Teamwork), the system for the care of prisoners at risk of
suicide and self-harm in England and Wales. Cases had
significantly greater levels of psychiatric morbidity than
controls, and more comorbidity. The strongest associations
with near-lethal self-harm were with current depression (age-adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 23.7, 95% CI 9.0–62.3), the
presence of two or more diagnoses (age-adjusted OR = 18.3,
95% CI 5.9–56.9), a history of psychiatric in-patient treatment(OR = 25.4, 95% CI 5.7–113.5) and previous attempted suicide, especially in prison (OR = 129, 95% CI 27–611). The only tested diagnoses not associated with near-lethal self-harm were antisocial personality disorder, substance use and eating disorders. Adjusting for sociodemographic and criminological variables did not significantly alter any of these findings.
This research underlines the importance of psychiatric risk
factors for suicide in custody and in particular comorbidity. The finding that a formal care plan was in place for most cases at the time of their near-lethal act is indicative of good risk detection, but also suggests high levels of unmet need. Given the potential complexity of their mental health needs, interventions incorporating pharmacological and psychological treatments should be considered for at-risk prisoners.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology > Forensic Psychology Research Group
Item ID: 10084
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Lisa Marzano
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2013 07:18
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:26

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