Self-rating of depression in elderly prisoners in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Archives of Depression and Anxiety
Aim: Against the background of the rising number of elderly people being incarcerated and the rare data on this special subgroup, the aim of our study was to collect first empirical data on the affective state of elderly prisoners in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany. Methods: Data were collected in nine German prisons. We included elderly prisoners from pretrial prevention, penal sentences, open enforcement, preventive detention and from special detention units for elderly inmates. For the
... tion of the affective state, we used the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). Sociodemographic and crime-related characteristics were documented. Findings: In total, n=116 prisoners (91.4% male) were included. The age ranged from 53 to 91 years (65.6±6.3 years). In our sample, 48% reported at least mild depressive symptoms, which is a significantly higher prevalence of depressive symptomatology than in the general population aged 60 years and older. Differences were found with regard to the type of detention, as prisoners in open enforcement showed significantly less symptoms compared to those in pretrial prevention and preventive detention. The participants reported in general more somatic symptoms as sleep disturbances and fatigue compared to mood items as feelings of sadness. Originality: It is the first study assessing the affective state of older prisoners in Germany. The high rate of depressive symptoms in our sample is in line with findings from international studies underlining the need for adequate diagnostics and therapy. In addition, in a previous study depression was indirectly linked with a greater risk of re-incarceration, fortifying the need for successful treatment of depression in prison both for the individuum and for society.