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Comparative Study
. 2014 Aug;26:24-8.
doi: 10.1016/j.jflm.2014.06.005. Epub 2014 Jun 10.

Mental Health and Health-Care Use of Detainees in Police Custody

Comparative Study

Mental Health and Health-Care Use of Detainees in Police Custody

Tina Dorn et al. J Forensic Leg Med. .


Background: In many countries, forensic physicians function as primary care providers for detainees in police custody. Their task is comparable to the tasks of general practitioners. Nevertheless, problems presented by both patient populations may differ. We therefore aimed to systematically compare presented problems and medication use in a population of police detainees to those of regular patients in general practice.

Methods: Health problems and prescription medications of 3232 detainees seen by the Amsterdam Forensic Medical Service were compared to those of general practice patients (n = 78,975) adjusted for age and gender during a 12-month period.

Results: Among those obtaining medical attention (28% of all detainees), almost 50% were diagnosed with mental health problems, with substance abuse as the leading reason for consultation. Forty-two percent received at least one prescription affecting the nervous system. In general practice, 17% (P < 0.001) of patients consulting their GP were diagnosed with mental health problems and 22% (P < 0.001) were prescribed medications affecting the nervous system.

Conclusion: The magnitude of mental health problems among police detainees has significant implications for the qualifications of police health staff and those who provide health care in the police setting especially concerning substance abuse.

Keywords: Detainees; Forensic medicine; Forensic physician; Mental health; Police; Primary health care.

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