The aggressor at the mirror: Psychiatric correlates of deliberate self-harm in male prison inmates [2017]

Deliberate self-harm (DSH) causes important concern in prison inmates as it worsens morbidity and increases the risk for suicide. The aim of the present study is to investigate the prevalence and correlates of DSH in a large sample of male prisoners.

A cross-sectional study evaluated male prisoners aged 18+ years. Current and lifetime psychiatric diagnoses were assessed with the Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – DSM-IV Axis I and Axis II Disorders and with the Addiction Severity Index-Expanded Version. DSH was assessed with The Deliberate Self-Harm Inventory. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to identify independent correlates of lifetime DSH.

Ninety-three of 526 inmates (17.7%) reported at least 1 lifetime DSH behavior, and 58/93 (62.4%) of those reported a DSH act while in prison. After multivariable adjustment (sensitivity 41.9%, specificity 96.1%, area under the curve = 0.854, 95% confidence interval CI = 0.811–0.897, P < 0.001), DSH was significantly associated with lifetime psychotic disorders (adjusted Odds Ratio aOR = 6.227, 95% CI = 2.183–17.762, P = 0.001), borderline personality disorder (aOR = 6.004, 95% CI = 3.305–10.907, P < 0.001), affective disorders (aOR = 2.856, 95% CI = 1.350–6.039, P = 0.006) and misuse of multiple substances (aOR = 2.024, 95% CI = 1.111–3.687, P = 0.021).

Borderline personality disorder and misuse of multiple substances are established risk factors of DSH, but psychotic and affective disorders were also associated with DSH in male prison inmates. This points to possible DSH-related clinical sub-groups, that bear specific treatment needs.

N. Verdolini, A. Murru, L. Attademo, R. Garinella, I. Pacchiarotti, C. del Mar Bonnin, L. Samalin, L. Pauselli, M. Piselli, A. Tamantini, R. Quartesan, A.F. Carvalho, E. Vieta, A. Tortorella

European Psychiatry, July 2017, Volume 44