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Logo of bmcpsycBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Psychiatry
BMC Psychiatry. 2011; 11: 40.
Published online 2011 March 10. doi:  10.1186/1471-244X-11-40
PMCID: PMC3065400

Depression, anxiety, and history of substance abuse among Norwegian inmates in preventive detention: Reasons to worry?



Inmates on preventive detention are a small and select group sentenced to an indefinite term of imprisonment. Mood disorders and substance abuse are risk factors for inmate violence and recidivism, so the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse was examined in this cohort using psychometric tests.


Completion of self-report questionnaires was followed by face-to-face clinical interviews with 26 of the 56 male inmates on preventive detention in Norway's Ila Prison. Substance abuse histories and information about the type of psychiatric treatment received were compiled. To assess anxiety and depression, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), the Clinical Anxiety Scale (CAS), and the Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) were used.


Scores on the MADRS revealed that 46.1% of inmates had symptoms of mild depression. The HADS depression subscale showed that 19.2% scored above the cut-off for depression (κ = 0.57). The CAS anxiety score was above the cut-off for 30.7% of the subjects, while 34.6% also scored above the cut-off on the HADS anxiety subscale (κ = 0.61). Almost 70% of all these inmates, and more than 80% of those convicted of sex crimes, had a history of alcohol and/or drug abuse.


Mild anxiety and depression was found frequently among inmates on preventive detention. Likewise, the majority of the inmates had a history of alcohol and drug abuse. Mood disorders and substance abuse may enhance recidivism, so rehabilitation programs should be tailored to address these problems.

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