Revalidating the brief jail mental health screen to increase accuracy for women

Psychiatr Serv. 2007 Dec;58(12):1598-601. doi: 10.1176/ps.2007.58.12.1598.


Objective: Jails need a reliable tool to identify inmates who require further mental health assessment and treatment. This research attempted to revalidate the Brief Jail Mental Health Screen (BJMHS) as such a tool. This research added four items to the original eight-item screen (BJMHS-R), targeting depression and trauma to improve performance of the screen with women.

Methods: BJMHS-R data were collected in four jails from 10,258 detainees. A subset of 464 were administered the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID) for cross-validation.

Results: The original BJMHS outperformed the revised screen. The original correctly classified 80% of males and 72% of females on the basis of SCID diagnoses, compared with classification rates of 72% and 66%, respectively, with the BJMHS-R. Overall, the BJMHS identified 16% of screened detainees as needing referral for further assessment, whereas the BJMHS-R identified 22%.

Conclusions: The original eight-item BJMHS is a practical, efficient tool for intake screening by jail correction officers of male and female detainees.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Maryland
  • Mass Screening / instrumentation
  • Mass Screening / standards*
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • New York
  • Prisoners / psychology*