Purpose – In a health survey of Finnish prisoners in 2006, the authors aimed to study frequency and gender differences in childhood physical and sexual abuse, and the connections of maltreatment in childhood to substance abuse and mental health among female and male prisoners. Design/methodology/approach – The sample consisted of 101 female prisoners, with 309 male prisoners for comparison. The subjects participated in a comprehensive field study consisting of several questionnaires, interviews, the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM‐IV Axis I and II Disorders (SCID I, II) and a clinical medical examination including ICD‐10 diagnoses. Findings – Both forms of abuse were more common among females than males (childhood physical abuse 25 per cent versus 15 per cent and childhood sexual abuse 32 per cent versus 7 per cent). Associations of childhood abuse with substance abuse and mental health were different among males and females. Family integrity was important only for males and in connection with drug dependence and antisocial personality disorder. The gender differences did not concur with those reported in studies on general populations. Originality/value – This is a part of the first comprehensive health survey of Finnish prisoners.
International Journal of Prisoner Health – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 17, 2011
Keywords: Childhood physical abuse; Childhood sexual abuse; Substance abuse; Mental disorders; Prisoners; Mental illness
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