Co-Occurring Mental Disorders and Behavioural Disturbance among Prisoners

Investigator: Mateja Popovic

Supervisors: James Ogloff, Rachael Fullam

Rationale and aims:

  • There is limited existing research examining co-morbid mental disorders (such as psychosis and personality disorders) in prisoner populations. Research on cognitive function in mentally disordered offenders is also scarce.
  • Prisoners with co-occurring disorders may present with increasing challenges and demand upon already scarce facility resources, due to a higher risk of behavioural disturbances, such as aggression, suicide and self-harm.
  • To date, no study has examined behavioural outcomes within the prison environment in individuals with multiple complex disorders and varying levels of cognitive function.
  • The aim of this study is to fill a gap in forensic research by examining institutional aggression and self-harm in offenders with and without comorbid mental disorders and impaired cognitive function


  • Participants will comprise consenting prisoners referred to the Mobile Forensic Mental Health Service from May 2015 to June 2017.
  • Data linkage methodology will be used to link information from the MobileFMHS database regarding offender demographics characteristics and clinical features (current mental illness diagnosis, substance abuse status, personality assessment, and cognitive assessment) to data from the Department of Health CMI data base regarding previous mental health service use, and Corrections Victoria data on institutional incidents, such as aggression, drug offences, and self-harm.