Neurodevelopmental disorders in prison inmates: comorbidity and combined associations with psychiatric symptoms and behavioural disturbance

Susan Young, Rafael A. González, Hannah Mullens, Laura Mutch, Isabella Malet-Lambert, Gisli H. Gudjonsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (SciVal)


The identification and management of inmates with neurodevelopmental disorders (ND) has been insufficiently addressed in the literature. We estimated the proportion of cases with Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Intellectual disability (ID) in prison, their comorbidity, and associations with disruptive behaviours and with psychiatric symptoms. Further, we examined the role of coexisting ND on psychiatric symptoms and attitudes toward violence. All 390 male inmates underwent an assessment that included the Diagnostic Interview for ADHD in Adults 2.0, the Autism Quotient, the Learning Disability Screening Questionnaire, the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), and measures of disruptive behaviours and attitudes towards violence. The percentage of cases with ADHD, ASD and ID were 25%, 9% and 9%. Inmates with ADHD and those with ID had significantly higher levels of disruptive behaviours. The combined ADHD/ASD group had significantly higher scores on global severity symptoms than either ADHD or ASD only. Meanwhile, the combined ADHD/ID group had significantly higher scores of behavioural disturbance than the ADHD-only group. Our findings show the extent of ND in prison, their inter-relations and associations with further mental health problems. Vulnerabilities conferred by ND within the criminal justice system should be addressed via interventions and preventative strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-115
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research
Early online date15 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • Intellectual disability
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Prison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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