Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, JAMA, Karolinski Institute, Mental Health Research / 01.11.2016 Interview with: Zheng Chang PhD Dept. of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Karolinska Institutet and Seena Fazel MD Department of Psychiatry Warneford Hospital University of Oxford, Oxford, England What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There were more than 10 million prisoners worldwide in 2015, with approximately 2.2 million in the United States alone. Despite reported decreases in violence in many countries, reoffending rates remain high. From 2005 through 2010, more than one-third of released prisoners in the United States and the United Kingdom were reconvicted of a new crime within 2 years. Most programs to reduce reoffending focus on psychosocial interventions, but their effect sizes are weak to moderate. As psychiatric and substance use disorders, which increase reoffending rates, are overrepresented among jail and prison populations. This study investigated the main psychotropic medication classes prescribed to prisoners using longitudinal Swedish population registers and examined the association between prescription of psychotropic medication and risk of violent reoffending. We found that three classes of psychotropic medications were associated with substantial reductions in violent reoffending: antipsychotics, a 42% reduction; psychostimulants, 38%; and drugs used in addictive disorders, a 52% reduction. The magnitudes of these associations were as strong as and possibly stronger than those for widely disseminated psychological programs in prison. (more…)
Author Interviews, Sexual Health, Social Issues / 12.02.2016 Interview with: Andrea K. Knittel, MD, PhD PGY-3, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences University of California, San Francisco Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Knittel: The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, and many studies have shown that involvement in the criminal justice system may be a risk factor for HIV/AIDS or other STDs. For example, some studies have found that in areas with high rates of incarceration, rates of STDs are higher, and others have shown that incarcerated individuals are more likely to have higher rates of concurrent sexual partnerships and a greater number of sexual partners. This may happen because of increased rates of partnership dissolution due to physical and emotional distance, as well as a desire on the part of formerly incarcerated men for an increased number of sexual partners to “make up for lost time,” which some studies have suggested. In addition, the female partners of incarcerated men may rely on other relationships, including new sexual partners, for emotional and financial support while their partners are incarcerated, whether their relationships end permanently or temporarily or they maintain their relationships through visits and calls. Very few studies have been able to look at community level effects of incarceration, however, because it is difficult to gather data at this level. This study uses an agent-based model, a computational approach that provide a closed system in which to test hypotheses. An agent-based model is a computer simulation that creates a small community (250 “agents” or simulated people) in which the agents can date and have sexual relationships. The model used in this paper has been shown previously to be similar to young people in the US. The experiment in this study was to run the model without incarceration and see how many partners men and women in the community had, and then add incarceration into the model and see what happened. Based on data from other studies, when men in the model were incarcerated they had a slightly higher risk of ending a relationship and became slightly less desirable as partners. (more…)