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Prison psychiatry

Konrad, Norberta; Welke, Justusb; Opitz-Welke, Annettec

doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e328356b7c3
FORENSIC PSYCHIATRY: Edited by Julio E. Arboleda-Flórez

Purpose of review Prison psychiatry is a secluded area of the psychiatric care system, which in fact often provides treatment for those who do not have access to community-based healthcare systems. The aim of this review is to give an impression of the special challenges of psychiatric work behind bars and to emphasize current trends in prison psychiatry.

Recent findings In prisoners, mental disorders are more common than in the general population. There is evidence that prison suicide rates do not reflect general population suicide rates, suggesting that variation in prison suicide rates possibly also reflects differences in the provision of psychiatric care. Good transitional preparation preceding release seems to be necessary to reduce the risk of poor health outcome, but is hard to achieve. Up to now, there is no clear decision on whether it is useful or possible to treat adult prisoners with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder with stimulants.

Summary Prison psychiatry has to deal with a disproportionate burden of psychiatric disease in prisoners. Adequate psychiatric treatment options may reduce suicide behind bars. Further research should focus on the special needs of individuals who are out of reach of the conventional community-based health system.

aInstitute of Forensic Psychiatry, Charité – University Medicine Berlin

bCommon Joint Committee (G-BA)

cJustizvollzugskrankenhaus Berlin (JVKB), Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Berlin, Germany

Correspondence to Norbert Konrad, Institute of Forensic Psychiatry, Charité – University Medicine Berlin, Oranienburger Str. 285, 13437 Berlin. Tel: +49 30 8445 1411; fax: +49 30 8445 1440; e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.