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An updated picture of the mental health needs of male and female prisoners in the UK: prevalence, comorbidity, and gender differences

Tyler, Nichola, Miles, Helen, Karadag, Bessey, Rogers, Gemma (2019) An updated picture of the mental health needs of male and female prisoners in the UK: prevalence, comorbidity, and gender differences. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, . ISSN 0933-7954. (doi:10.1007/s00127-019-01690-1) (KAR id:73665)

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Epidemiological data on the mental health needs of prisoners are essential for the organisation, planning, and delivery of services for this population as well as for informing policy and practice. Recent reports by the National Audit Office and NICE call for new research to provide an updated picture of the mental health needs of men and women in prison in the UK. This study aimed to measure the prevalence and comorbidity of mental health needs across a representative sample of both men and women across 13 prisons in one UK region.


Participants completed a standardised battery of psychometric assessments which screened for a range of mental health difficulties including: mental disorders, personality disorder, and substance misuse.


469 participants were included in the final sample (338 males, 131 females). A high number of participants reported having had previous contact with mental health services and/or a pre-existing diagnosis of a mental disorder. High rates of current mental disorder were detected across the range of disorders screened for. Levels of comorbidity were also high, with nearly half of participants screening positive for two or more types of mental disorder. Gender differences were noted in terms of previous contact with mental health services, having a pre-existing diagnosis, prevalence of current mental disorder, and levels of comorbidity; with women reporting higher rates than men.


Rates of pre-existing and current mental illness continue to be high amongst prisoners. Women report significantly higher levels of mental health need compared to men.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s00127-019-01690-1
Uncontrolled keywords: Prisons, Forensic mental health, Offenders, Prisoners, Prison healthcare
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Nichola Tyler
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2019 12:21 UTC
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2022 22:09 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Tyler, Nichola:
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