Eight month follow-up of delinquent adolescents: predictors of short-term outcome
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Clinicians working with young delinquents are concerned with finding methods to predict recidivism in these subjects. It has not been investigated yet to what extent psychiatric assessment can be of any help in this field.
In this study, we investigated whether psychiatric assessment can help to predict recidivism in already delinquent adolescents. By means of semi-structured psychiatric assessment (Child Assessment Schedule), developmental interview of the parents and self-report instruments, we assessed the psychiatric status of 72 delinquent adolescents, adjudicated before the Juvenile Court of Antwerp (Belgium). A follow-up of criminal status after eight months was conducted.
Self-report questionnaires by the subjects did not differentiate recidivists from non-recidivists, while parent questionnaires did. Through a semi-structured interview, we found that a diagnosis of conduct disorder significantly predicts recidivism, while subjects with ADHD and substance abuse show a tendency towards more recidivism. We were unable, however, due to the small number of subjects showing a psychiatric disorder (e. g. ADHA and PTSD) unrelated to conduct disorder, to assess the relative contribution of these disorders to the recidivism rate.
This study found that psychiatric assessment of delinquent adolescents could be of help in predicting recidivism. The necessity of gathering information from parents and teachers is demonstrated. Future research should include a more extensive group of a delinquent adolescent and should focus on the effect of therapeutic interventions.
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