Date: 12 Nov 2004

Prevalence of attention deficit–/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and comorbid disorders in young male prison inmates*

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Abstract

Objective

This study was performed to evaluate the prevalence of ADHD as well as comorbid conditions among young male prison inmates.

Method

We investigated 129 prison inmates (mean age ± SE: 19.2±2.0 years) and 54 healthy male control subjects (mean age ± SE: 22.2±3.12 years) for the presence of adult ADHD using the Wender Utah Rating Scale (WURS), the Eysenck Impulsivity Questionnaire (EIQ), the diagnostic criteria for ADHD according to DSM–IV and ICD–10–research criteria and the Utah criteria for adult ADHD. In order to determine comorbid personality disorders we applied the International Personality Disorder Examination (IPDE). Externalization (ED) and Internalization Disorders (ID) were evaluated by means of the Achenbach Scales. Alcoholism (ALC) was examined via the Alcohol Use Disorder Test (AUDIT) and substance use disorder (SUD) has been investigated with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM–IV (SCID).

Results

The overall prevalence of ADHD according to DSM–IV was 45%. The prevalence of disturbance of activity and attention (DAA) and hyperkinetic conduct disorder (HCD) via the ICD–10 research criteria was 21.7%. Sole DAA without any comorbid condition could be detected in one case. The most common diagnostic combinations were DAA/HCD and SUD/ALC (89% of all DAA/HCD cases).

Conclusion

The prevalence of DAA/HCD or ADHD in young adult prison inmates is significantly elevated when compared to nondelinquent controls. Generally the population of young adult male prison inmates exhibits a considerable psychiatric morbidity. Of the total sample, 64% suffered from at least 2 disorders. Only 8.5 % had no psychiatric diagnoses. This indicates the urgent need for more psychiatric expertise in young offender facilities.

* This study has been supported by the authorities of the State of Saarland/Germany.