Complex health needs in the youth justice system: a survey of community-based and custodial offenders

Kinner, Stuart A., Degenhardt, Louisa, Coffey, Carolyn, Sawyer, Susan, Hearps, Stephen and Patton, George (2014) Complex health needs in the youth justice system: a survey of community-based and custodial offenders. Journal of Adolescent Health, 54 5: 521-526. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.10.003

Author Kinner, Stuart A.
Degenhardt, Louisa
Coffey, Carolyn
Sawyer, Susan
Hearps, Stephen
Patton, George
Title Complex health needs in the youth justice system: a survey of community-based and custodial offenders
Journal name Journal of Adolescent Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1054-139X
Publication date 2014-05-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.10.003
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 54
Issue 5
Start page 521
End page 526
Total pages 6
Place of publication Philadelphia, PA, United States
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Subject 2735 Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
2738 Psychiatry and Mental health
2739 Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
Formatted abstract
Purpose: Estimate the prevalence and annual frequency of health risk indicators in young people serving community-based orders (CBOs) and custodial orders in the state of Victoria, Australia.

Methods: Cross-sectional survey of 242 young people serving CBOs and 273 serving custodial orders in Victoria in 2002-2003. Validated measures included the Composite International Diagnostic Interview for substance dependence, Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire for depression, and Psychosis Screening Questionnaire for psychosis symptoms. Prevalence estimates were adjusted for sampling bias and age- and sex-adjusted for between-group comparisons. Prevalence estimates were applied to 2010-2011 Victorian youth justice data to estimate annual frequencies at the state level.

Results: The prevalence of substance dependence, poor mental health, and risky sexual behavior was high in both groups. Age- and sex-adjusted prevalence estimates were generally higher among those serving custodial orders; however, extrapolating prevalence estimates to statewide youth justice data generally resulted in higher estimated annual frequencies among CBOs. For example, the estimated prevalence of any substance dependence was 66% (95% confidence interval [CI], 60-72) in those serving custodial orders and 34% (95% CI, 26-42) in CBOs, but the estimated frequency of substance dependence in CBOs in 2010-2011 was 970 (95% CI, 750-1,180), compared with 490 (95% CI, 450-530) in those serving a custodial order.

Conclusions: There is a compelling case for scaling up health services for young offenders in custody and in the community, and for routinely monitoring the health of young offenders serving custodial and community orders.

Implications and Contribution Complex health needs are increasingly documented in young offenders receiving custodial orders. We found that substance dependence, poor mental health, and sexual risk behavior were common among those under community supervision and in custody. These data make the case for coordinated, quality health services for all youth justice clients, including those under community supervision.

Keyword Adolescent
Drug dependence
Health services
Juvenile justice
Mental health
Sexual health
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Medicine Publications
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 13 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 16 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Tue, 06 May 2014, 12:04:07 EST by System User on behalf of School of Medicine