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Diagnoses vary with arrest history.

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. -- Adolescent psychiatric inpatients with arrest histories differ significantly from those without arrest histories in male to female ratio and length of stay, Roger C. Burket, M.D., said in a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

Those juveniles who have been arrested also tend to have a different set of psychological disorders from those who have never been arrested.

Dr. Burket and his associates reviewed the records of 157 consecutive adolescent admissions to a Florida psychiatric hospital. The sample included 81 males and 76 females averaging 15 years of age. There were 151 white and 6 African American or biracial subjects. The average length of stay was 64 days.

Of all the subjects, 74 (47%) had arrest histories; many had been charged with more than one offense. Offenses included theft, breaking and entering, mischief or vandalism, drug-related crimes, robbery, trespass, child molestation or rape, discharging a weapon, loitering, indecent exposure, and arson, said Dr. Burket, director of child and family psychiatry at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

Compared with the no-arrest group, subjects in the arrest group had similar mean ages, racial breakdowns, family backgrounds, and full-scale IQs. The arrest group, however, had significantly more males, more placements in learning or emotionally disabled classes, and longer stays in the hospital, he said.

In the no-arrest group, there were more suicide attempts. Both groups had similar frequencies of depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and psychotic features, but the no-arrest group had more anxiety.

In terms of diagnoses, both groups had significant comorbidity, with averages of more than two diagnoses per subject, not including any possible substance abuse. The arrest group had significantly more conduct disorder and learning disorder diagnoses. Less-frequent diagnoses in the arrest group included atypical depression (five subjects), schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder (three subjects each), and schizophreniform disorder, bipolar affective disorder, or major depression (two subjects each).

In the no-arrest group, dysthymia was the most frequent diagnosis (53 subjects), followed by identity disorders (11 subjects), oppositional defiant disorder and adjustment disorder (9 subjects each), and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (7 subjects).

The investigators noted that, despite the differences between the arrest and no-arrest groups, both had high rates of depression, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, anxiety, behavioral disturbances, and alcohol abuse. This study underscores the need for mental health care services that recognize the special characteristics and needs of juveniles with arrest histories.
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Title Annotation:Forensic Psychiatry
Author:Frieden, Joyce
Publication:Clinical Psychiatry News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2005
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