Psychological distress in an incarcerated juvenile population

Shu Yu Lyu, Ying Chen Chi, David Farabee, Liang Ting Tsai, Ming Been Lee, Feng En Lo, Donald E. Morisky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background/Purpose: This study sought to examine the prevalence and correlates of psychological distress among incarcerated youth in Taiwan using the 5-item Brief Symptom Rating Scale (BSRS-5). Methods: This cross-sectional census survey study was conducted in 2007 among all the juveniles incarcerated in 23 correctional institutions (n = 1505) in Taiwan using a self-administered anonymous questionnaire. Of the total 1505 participants, 1363 completed the questionnaire (91% response rate). We excluded 494 participants as they were aged either over 17 years or under 12 years. Psychological distress was measured among the final 869 participants using the BSRS-5. Psychological distress was defined as a total score of at least 6 out of 20. Those identified as having psychological distress were then pooled into a case group and compared with control participants without psychological distress. Results: The prevalence of psychological distress was 44.1%. Among the case group, sleep disturbance (36.8%) had the highest prevalence of severe or very severe symptoms, followed by depression (34.7%), and hostility (27.9%). Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that correlates of psychological distress included the following: being female; having a poor self-rated health status; having joined a gang; having experienced life disturbances prior to the current imprisonment; and having ever had a smoking habit. Conclusion: Significant sex differences were found for both the overall BSRS-5, as well as for each individual item of the BSRS-5. Treatment programs and interventions should be carefully tailored to address the mental health needs of juvenile inmates in a sex-specific manner using a multifaceted approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1076-1081
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the Formosan Medical Association = Taiwan yi zhi
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Incarcerated population
  • Juvenile
  • Psychological distress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Psychological distress in an incarcerated juvenile population'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this