Self-harm among UK female prisoners: A cross-sectional study
Vollm, Birgit A.
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Psychiatric morbidity and suicide rates in prisoners are high. The detection of mental illness and its associated risks in prison are low. The aim of this study was to ascertain the prevalence of psychiatric symptomatology, needs and self-harming behaviour among UK female prisoners and to identify differences between individuals with and without a history of self-harm. We conducted a cross-sectional study including 638 female prisoners from two prisons in the North-West of England. Outcome measures used were the Prison Screening Questionnaire (PriSnQuest), a questionnaire on self-harming behaviour and suicidal ideation and the Camberwell Assessment of Need ? Forensic Version (CANFOR). 241 women (37.8%) screened positive on the PriSnQuest; 281 women (45.9%) had a history of self-harm. An average of 8.5 needs was identified with more than half of those needs classified as unmet. Differences between women with and without history of self-harm were identified on offending history, PriSnQuest scores and the CANFOR total and unmet needs. Previous contact with a psychiatrist, total and symptoms of depression on the PriSnQuest were independently associated with a history of self-harm. This study confirmed that the prevalence of psychiatric symptomatology and self-harm in female UK prisoners is high. Individuals at risk of self-harming behaviour may be identified using screening questionnaires.