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Psychiatric morbidity among sentenced prisoners: prevalence study in Iran

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Seyed Mohammad Assadi*
Department of Psychiatry and Psychiatric Research Centre, Tehran University of Medical Sciences
Maryam Noroozian
Department of Psychiatry and Psychiatric Research Centre, Tehran University of Medical Sciences
Mahdi Pakravannejad
Tehran Institute of Psychiatry, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Iran
Omid Yahyazadeh
Tehran Institute of Psychiatry, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Iran
Shahrokh Aghayan
Tehran Institute of Psychiatry, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Iran
Seyed Vahid Shariat
Tehran Institute of Psychiatry, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Iran
Seena Fazel
Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
Dr Seyed Mohammad Assadi, Roozbeh Psychiatric Hospital, South Kargar Avenue, Tehran 13337, Iran. Tel: +98 21 5541 2222; fax: +98 21 5541 9113; e-mail:
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Information on psychiatric morbidity of prisoners has almost entirely been based on research in Western countries and it is uncertain whether these research findings are applicable to other settings.


The primary objective was to investigate the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in Iranian prisoners.


Through stratified random sampling, 351 prisoners were interviewed using the clinical version of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IVAxis I Disorders and the Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version.


The majority (88%) of prisoners met DSM – IV criteria for lifetime diagnosis of at least one Axis I disorder and 57% were diagnosed with current Axis I disorders. Opioid dependence (73%) had the highest prevalence among lifetime diagnoses, whereas major depressive disorder (29%) was the most common current diagnosis. Psychopathy was recorded in 23%. Prevalence rates of psychiatric disorders were significantly different among offence categories.


The results suggest that a substantial burden of psychiatric morbidity exists in the prison population of Iran, with treatment challenges that appear to be different from those observed in inmates in Western countries.

Copyright © 2006 The Royal College of Psychiatrists 


Declaration of Interest

None. Funding detailed in Acknowledgements.


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