The relationship between mental healthcare utilization and criminal behaviors among internal medicine outpatients

Randy A. Sansone, Charlene Lam, Michael W. Wiederman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. According to the scant empirical literature, largely in studies of offenders, there appears to be a general but diffuse relationship between various psychiatric disorders and criminal behavior. In this study, we examined mental healthcare utilization, a general measure of psychiatric dysfunction, in relationship to a history of criminal behavior in a sample of internal medicine outpatients. Method. In a consecutive sample of 376 internal medicine outpatients being seen predominantly by resident providers, we examined the relationship between 27 illegal behaviors (charges, not convictions) as delineated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's crime cataloguing schema and four items related to mental healthcare utilization (i.e., ever been seen by a psychiatrist, ever been hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital, ever been in counseling, ever been on medication for your "nerves"). Results. Twenty-two percent of the sample reported a history of having been charged with at least one criminal behavior. With the exception of ever having been on "nerve" medication, the remaining mental-healthcare-utilization variables demonstrated statistically significant relationships with the number of illegal behaviors reported. However, overall correlations were relatively weak. Conclusions. Using both a sample and methodology that is unique to the current literature, we found relationships between past mental health treatment and history of criminal behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-37
Number of pages3
JournalInnovations in Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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