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Pinese et al. Annals of General Psychiatry 2010, 9:34 http://www.annals-general-psychiatry.com/content/9/1/34

PRIMARY RESEARCH

Open Access

Demographic and clinical predictors of depressive symptoms among incarcerated women
Carmen SV Pinese, Antonia RF Furegato*, Jair LF Santos
Abstract
Background: Imprisonment may lead to the development of mental illness, especially depression. Thisstudy examines the clinical and sociodemographic profiles of imprisoned women, identifies indicative signs of depression, and relates these indicators to other variables. Methods: This study took the form of descriptive exploratory research with a psychometric evaluation. A total of 100 of 300 women in a female penitentiary were interviewed. A questionnaire with sociodemographic, clinical andpenal situation information was used, along with the Beck Depression Inventory. The authors performed bivariate and multivariate analysis regarding depression. Results: In all, 82 women presented signs of depression (light = 33, mild = 29 and severe = 20). Comorbidities, lack of religious practice, absence of visitors and presence of eating disorders were risk factors for depression (P = 0.03, 0.03,0.02, 0.04, and 0.01). Being older was a protection factor against severe depression; for women over 30, the risk of depression was multiplied by 0.12. The rate of depression among women prisoners was high. Conclusions: Comorbidities, the lack of religious practice, not having visitors and eating disorders are significant risk factors for depression, while age is a protective factor, amongincarcerated women.

Introduction The prison population, especially the female sector, grows every day. Data from the Brazilian National Penitentiary Department shows that in 2005 the prison system population in the State of São Paulo was 120,601 with 3,903 women, and in 2008, it was 145,096 with 6,520 women. Among the reasons that result in women being sent to prison is involvement with drugusers/traffickers [1,2]. Epidemiological studies have shown gender differences in the occurrence, prevalence and course of mental behavior issues and disorders. Women present exceptional vulnerability to symptoms of depression and anxiety, mainly associated with their reproductive period [3]. The prevalence ratio for women has varied from 1.5 to 3.0, reaching an average female to male ratio of 2:1 [4-7].
*Correspondence: furegato@eerp.usp.br Department of Psychiatric Nursing and Human Sciences, College of Nursing, University of São Paulo at Ribeirão Preto, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil

The prison environment neutralizes the formation and development of basic human values, contributing to stigmatization, altering the convict’s conduct and leading to temporary or even irreversible psychic sequelae[8,9]. Mental disorders occur frequently in the context of reclusion. Although evidence suggests that imprisonment conditions can lead to anxiety, depression, selfharming or heteroaggressive behavior, obsessions, psychoactive substance abuse and suicide, there is no agreement in the literature on the causal relationship between confinement and mental disorders [8,10-12]. In addition to feelings ofinadequacy, important feelings in imprisoned people are anticipated suffering in life outside of incarceration, fear of family abandonment, guilt for being absent from raising and educating their children, losing their right to the social importance of work, identity loss, social discrimination that impairs prospects for working outside of the criminal context, and social recognition [12-14]. Thisstudy was carried out due to the high frequency of depression among women inmates with the belief that these women need

© 2010 Pinese et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,...
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