The prevalence of mental disorders in Taiwanese prisons: a nationwide population-based study

  • Tao-Hsin Tung
  • Yi-Ying Hsiao
  • Sheng-Ang Shen
  • Chien HuangEmail author
Original Paper



In Taiwan, few studies explored the morbidity of mental disorders among prisoners. The purpose of this study is conducted to estimate the prevalence of mental disorders in Taiwanese prisoners.


Based on Nationwide population-based databank, 82,650 prisons were studied for mental disorders. Mental disorders were assessed with the International Classification of Diseases 9th revision Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM).


The prevalence of mental disorders among prisoners was estimated 11.31%. Female prisons exhibited a higher prevalence than males (17.82% vs. 10.56%, p < 0.01). Among all cases that were diagnosed with the contents of mental disorder, anxiety, dissociative and somatoform disorders was the most frequent disease (total: 49.48%, female: 59.42%, male: 47.55%) followed by special symptoms or syndromes (total: 38.24%, female: 33.20%, male: 39.22%), drug dependence (total: 15.41%, female: 9.22%, male: 16.61%), episodic mood disorders (total: 13.56%, female: 26.15%, male: 11.12%), nondependent abuse of drugs (total: 11.23%, female: 2.77%, male: 12.87%) and depressive disorder (total: 11.23%, female: 11.66%, male: 11.14%).


A substantial proportion of prisoners reported having mental disorders. The results suggests the necessity of comprehensive assessment and more treatment programs that offer alternatives to incarceration of mental health for the criminal justice system in Taiwan.


Prevalence Mental disorders Prisons Population-based study 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

I certify that all my affiliations with or financial involvement in, within the past 5 years and foreseeable future, any organization or entity with a financial interest in or financial conflict with the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript are completely disclosed (e.g., employment, consultancies, honoraria, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, grants or patents received or pending, royalties).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tao-Hsin Tung
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yi-Ying Hsiao
    • 3
  • Sheng-Ang Shen
    • 1
    • 4
  • Chien Huang
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Crime Prevention and CorrectionCentral Police UniversityTaoyuanTaiwan, Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Medical Research and EducationCheng-Hsin General HospitalTaipeiTaiwan, Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Public HealthKaohsiung Medical UniversityKaohsiungTaiwan, Republic of China
  4. 4.Department of Clinical Psychology, School of MedicineFu-Jen Catholic UniversityTaipeiTaiwan, Republic of China

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