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A Pilot Study Examining ADHD and Behavioural Disturbance in Female Mentally Disordered Offenders

1 King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK;
2 Broadmoor Hospital, Crowthorne, West London Mental Health Trust, UK;
3 Centre for Mental Health, Imperial College London, London, UK

Compared with general population rates, prevalence rates of ADHD have been consistently reported to be higher in both male and female offender populations, the latter estimated to range between 10–29%. Research in forensic institutional settings has reported that aggressive behaviour is a particularly prominent source of impairment among men with ADHD. However there is a paucity of research investigating the type of behavioural incidents that may arise in female offenders with ADHD. This pilot study therefore aimed to further our understanding of ADHD within a cohort of female mentally disordered offenders by ascertaining estimated rates of ADHD and associated functional disturbance presenting in this population. Fifty female offenders completed the Barkley ADHD rating scales. Data on aggressive and self-harming behaviours were obtained from patients' clinical records. Almost one-third of patients (28%) screened positive for ADHD, most commonly hyperactive/impulsive and combined subtypes. They were significantly younger than their peers and there were no significant differences in behavioural disturbance records between groups. When controlling for age, hyperactive/impulsive symptoms and combined symptoms were significantly and positively correlated with measures of behavioural disturbance. ADHD symptoms correlated more strongly with self-harm than outward aggression, which is a novel finding. This pilot study has contributed to the knowledge base about the rate and functional problems of female offenders with ADHD. Future research should replicate the study using a larger sample and explore the effect of treatment (pharmacological and psychological) on the reduction of ADHD symptoms, behavioural disturbance, length of stay and quality of life.
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1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 5Eds, Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

2. Simon V, Czobor P, Balint S, et al. (2007). Prevalence and correlates of adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: meta analysis. Brit J Psychiat 190: 402-409.    

Copyright Info: © 2014, Susan Young, et al., licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

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