Clinical and Research News
 DOI: 10.1176/appi.pn.2013.12b3(w3)
Untreated Schizophrenia Increases Risk for Violence By Inmates
Psychiatric News
Volume 49 Number 1 page 1

Relapsed prisoners with certain forms of psychosis are more likely to be repeat perpetrators of violence than others, according to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London examined 967 released prisoners who served multiyear sentences for violent acts to assess the association of violent reoccurrences in those with schizophrenia, delusional disorder, or drug-induced psychosis. The prisoners—with and without psychosis—were divided into three groups: those who received treatment during and after prison, those who received treatment during prison only, and those who did not receive treatment during or after prison.

Results showed that prisoners with schizophrenia who did not receive treatment for psychosis during or after imprisonment were three times more likely to again commit violent acts, compared with prisoners whose schizophrenia was treated and prisoners with other forms of psychosis. According to the study, violent reoccurrences were associated with the emergence of persecutory delusions—often a sign of untreated schizophrenia.

“This is an important public-health problem, and at the moment we’re failing high-risk people with psychotic disorders,” said Jeremy Coid, M.D., lead author and a professor of forensic psychiatry.

“Most people with schizophrenia are not violent and pose no danger to others. However, among those who have shown severe violent tendencies and been imprisoned as a result, the risk of future violence is greatly increased if they are not treated. ■

Keers R, Ullrich S, Destavola B, et al. “Association of Violence With Emergence of Persecutory Delusions in Untreated Schizophrenia.” 2013. Am J Psychiatry. Nov 13. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/Article.aspx?ArticleID=1773703

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