Validation of a Brief Screening Instrument for Identifying Psychiatric Disorders Among Newly Incarcerated Adults

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Abstract

Objective

This study sought to cross-validate a brief mental healthscreening instrument for newly incarcerated adults with undetected psychiatric impairment.

Methods

Women (N=360) and men (N=630) aged 18 to 64 years with no institutionally identified mental health condition were randomly recruited upon entry to jail. Nonclinical research staff administered the Correctional Mental Health Screen for women (CMHS-F) or men (CMHS-M). A randomly selected subsample (100 women and 106 men) subsequently completed research clinical diagnostic interviews for standardized clinical cross-validation.

Results

Accuracy for the CMHS-F and CMHS-M (73%–80%) for the identification of current axis I or II psychiatric disorders replicated results of an instrument development study and exceeded the accuracy levels reported for alternative brief mental health screening measures with incarcerated adults. Cutoff points were identified that maximized positive or negative predictive power.

Conclusions

This cross-validation demonstrates that the CMHS-F and CMHS-M are efficient, accurate screens to identify newly incarcerated adults with undetected psychiatric disorders.

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