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Criminality and aggression among psychotic in-patients: frequency and clinical correlates

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Objective: Violence is common among patients with psychoses. The aim of the study was to examine relations between diagnoses, crimes, demographic variables and aggressive behaviour during admission to hospital.

Method: During 14 months 257 patients were consecutively referred to a unit with high staff/patient ratio. They were assessed for clinical symptoms at admittance and discharge. Also legal status, coercive measures, criminality and sentences were examined.

Results: Of the 257 patients, 38% were found in the police register and 33% had been prosecuted. Those patients committed 2525 crimes, including 292 acts of violence. Problems during admittance were related more to positive symptoms at admittance than to earlier criminality.

Conclusion: Criminality rate is high among patients with functional psychoses. Many patients, especially women, had never been evaluated by a forensic psychiatrist. The psychiatric services have to consider the importance of preventing psychotic relapses and thereby also preventing violence and criminality.

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Keywords: aggression; forensic psychiatry; psychosis; schizophrenia; violence

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychiatry, Malmö, Lund University and 2: Resurskliniken, University Hospital MAS, Malmö, Sweden

Publication date: 01 April 2001

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