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Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 44, Issue 10, pp 853–861 | Cite as

Detecting and predicting self-harm behaviour in prisoners: a prospective psychometric analysis of three instruments

  • Amanda E. Perry
  • Simon Gilbody
Original Paper

Abstract

Background

Research has revealed high levels of suicide and self-harm within young adult prisoners, but many studies have not considered the applicability and validity of its measurement for both male and female prisoners. Previous studies have focused on retrospective evaluations of instruments which are not useful evidence in informing clinical practice and decision making.

Objectives

To evaluate the validation and prediction of suicide and self-harm risk in young adult prisoners.

Method

The study was divided into two stages. Stage one used a cross-sectional design of 1,166 prisoners across six HM Prisons to validate the use of three questionnaires: the Beck Depression Inventory, the Beck Hopelessness Scale and a newly devised instrument (SCOPE tool). The second stage assessed the predictive validity of the three instruments using a 4-year-follow-up study of female prisoners across two HM Prisons in UK. Self-report and official records were used to measure suicide and self-harm risk. Logistic regression methodology, receiver operator characteristic curves and Youden’s index were used to determine the range of thresholds for the three tools.

Results

Self-report measurement of suicide and self-harm behaviour using the three instruments presented a range of sensitivity and specificity values (65.9–72.3% and 64.9–74.0%, respectively). Predictive measurement of suicide and self-harm behaviour in the follow-up study presented a range of sensitivity and specificity values (54.6–80% and 62.2–69.4%, respectively).

Conclusion

Screening for self-harm and suicidal behaviour in young prisoners has generated a range of cut off points for the identification of those at risk. These serve as a bench mark for service planners and practitioners.

Keywords

Screening Suicide Self-harm Prisoners Assessment 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Ethical approval was provided by each Governor at the prisons and the Ethics Committee, Department of Psychology, University of York. The authors would also like to thank the support of Mathew Johnson for his assistance with collecting the follow-up data for this project.

Conflict of interest statement

None.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Criminal Justice Economics and Psychology, Wentworth CollegeUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  2. 2.Department of Health SciencesUniversity of YorkYorkUK

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