A systematic PRISMA review of individuals with autism spectrum disorder in secure psychiatric care: prevalence, treatment, risk assessment and other clinical considerations – 2018

Patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present with specific assessment, specific difficulties, needs and therapeutic issues and therefore are a challenging group for forensic services. Given the challenge that individuals with ASD present to forensic services, the suggested increase in the number of this group within this setting and the relatively little amount of research which suggests they face a number of difficulties within the prison environment, the purpose of this paper is to identify and review all the studies which have been carried out investigating any aspect of ASD in relation to secure hospital settings.

Seven internet-based bibliographic databases were used for the present review. The review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines.

A total of 12 studies were included in this review; 3 looked at the prevalence of ASD in secure psychiatric hospitals. One study evaluated the clinical utility of the AQ screening tool to assess self-reported autistic traits in secure psychiatric settings. Three explored any type of characteristics of patients with ASD detained in secure psychiatric hospitals. One study investigated the experiences or quality of life of patients with an ASD detained in secure psychiatric care. Two studies investigated awareness, knowledge and/or views regarding patients with ASD held by staff working within secure psychiatric hospitals. Lastly, three studies (one of which was also included in the prevalence category above) looked at the effectiveness of interventions or treatment of patients with ASD in secure psychiatric hospitals. Clinical recommendations and future research directions are discussed.

To the author’s knowledge, this is the first review to explore what research has been carried out looking specifically at patients with ASD in relation to secure forensic settings.

Clare S. Allely
Journal of Criminal Psychology, Vol. 8 Issue: 1, 2018