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Revista Española de Sanidad Penitenciaria

versión On-line ISSN 2013-6463versión impresa ISSN 1575-0620


ARROYO, J.M.  y  ORTEGA, E.. A quality improvement program for mental health care in prison: An evaluation of the results (2000-2005). Rev. esp. sanid. penit. [online]. 2007, vol.9, n.1, pp.06-15. ISSN 2013-6463.

Introduction: We describe the results of a program to improve the quality of mental health care amongst inmates after six years (2000-2005). Materials and Methods: We designed a series of studies lasting one to two years and used them as a basis for the program. In 2000 we studied demand for primary health care in the treatment of mental health problems in the prison health centre. In 2001 compulsive demand for psychotropic medication was studied. In 2002 the existence of mental disorders in a random sample of 60 inmates. In 2003 and 2004 we studied the relationship between mental disorder and adjustment problems, first by relating sanctions for aggressive behaviour with mental disorders using a random sample of 60 inmates and then relating inappropriate adjustment behaviours with use of psychotropic medication in a random sample of 520 inmates. In 2005 we studied the functioning of the prison health care centre as a resource in the treatment of inmates with severe mental illness by taking data from admissions over a seven month time period. Results: 50% of the primary health care consultations were related in one or another with a mental health problem. 59% of the inmates showed symptoms of some type of mental disorder, 56.6% of those being addictive disorders while the other 30% were Personality Disorders. 20% of the inmates required referral to the consultant psychiatrist, the most common cause of referral being inappropriate or maladjusted behaviour (46%) and the most common diagnosis Depressive Disorder associated with Addictive Disorder (psychoactive substances). We could see a correlation between the number of sanctions for aggressive conduct and the diagnosis of Personality Disorder. A similar correlation could be seen between adjustment problems marked on an objective scale and the use of psychotropic medication. 50% of the inmates in the health centre sick bay were there because of mental disorder, and 43% had been admitted directly after sentencing. Discussion: A limitation of this study is that it only goes as far as describing a set of findings about the quality of mental health care and does not propose any relevant improvements. This work shall be left for later studies. There is clearly a great need for mental health care amongst prisoners. Pathologies that cause inappropriate behaviour, most commonly understood as the expression of inadequate interpersonal relationships, are the most common disorders and are generally associated with psychoactive substance abuse. The model we propose is that of the consultant psychiatrist working in close cooperation with the primary health care team as the best answer to this type of health care need. Health care centres are not sufficiently equipped to respond to the situation and have no other option but to accept patients who have usually committed some type of violent crime and who have not been admitted to specialised centres outside prison, usually because adequate security measures are lacking.

Palabras clave : Quality of Health Care; Prison; Mental Health; Psychiatry.

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