Risks for individuals with schizophrenia who are living in the community

Psychiatr Serv. 2001 Oct;52(10):1358-66. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.52.10.1358.


Objective: This study examined the incidence and predictors of police contact, criminal charges, and victimization among noninstitutionalized individuals with schizophrenia living in the community.

Methods: A total of 172 individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder were recruited from community-based programs in urban Los Angeles between 1989 and 1991 and were monitored for three years. At baseline, all participants were housed and did not have co-occurring substance use disorders. Face-to-face interviews were conducted every six months.

Results: Eighty-three individuals (48 percent) had contact with the police during the study period. A small percentage of the contacts involved aggressive behavior against property or persons. Being younger, having had more address changes at baseline, and having a history of arrest and assault were significant predictors of police contact. Thirty-seven individuals (22 percent) reported that charges had been filed against them. Poorer social functioning, more address changes, fewer days of taking medication at baseline, and a history of arrest and assault were significant predictors of criminal charges. Sixty-five participants (38 percent of the sample) reported having been the victim of a crime during the three years, 91 percent of which was violent. Having more severe clinical symptoms and more substance use at baseline were significant predictors of victimization.

Conclusions: Individuals in this sample were at least 14 times more likely to be victims of a violent crime than to be arrested for one. In general, the risk associated with being in the community was higher than the risk these individuals posed to the community

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Deinstitutionalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Police
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology
  • Psychotic Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Risk
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology*
  • Schizophrenia / rehabilitation
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Violence / psychology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data