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Attention Problems Predict Risk of Violence and Rehabilitative Engagement in Mentally Disordered Offenders

Puzzo, I. & Sedgwick, O. (2019). Attention Problems Predict Risk of Violence and Rehabilitative Engagement in Mentally Disordered Offenders. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10(MAY), article number 279. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00279


Mentally disordered offenders (MDOs) endorse difficulties with attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Assessing these difficulties among MDOs may confer practical benefits for the management and provision of care for this population, by informing strategies to improve rehabilitative engagement and risk assessments for violence. However, there is a dearth of literature exploring these cognitive problems in MDOs in relation to outcome factors. Forty-eight MDOs from a high-security hospital completed the QbTest, which measures the domains of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Comprehensive file review of clinical and occupational/vocational rehabilitative engagement and Historical Clinical Risk Management-20 (HCR-20) were used as outcome measures of interest. Participants displayed greater cognitive deficits in attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity compared to the general population. The domain of inattention and omission errors was related to occupational/vocational therapy engagement as well as a higher risk of present and future violence as measured by the HCR-20. The findings suggest that QbTest is a helpful objective tool that could be incorporated into the assessment of MDOs. Specifically, inattention emerged as a strong predictor of patients’ risk of violence as well as patient’s vocational therapy engagement. Therefore, cognitive skills programs targeting attention problems should be introduced to improve outcomes for this population.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright © 2019 Puzzo, Sedgwick, Kelly, Greer, Kumari, Guðjónsson and Young. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Publisher Keywords: mentally disordered offenders, attention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, risk of violence, therapeutic engagement
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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