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Review: high rates of substance abuse or dependence in male and female prisoners

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Q What is the prevalence of substance abuse or dependence in the prison population at the time of prison entry?


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Systematic review of cross-sectional studies without meta-analysis.

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EMBASE, PsycINFO, MEDLINE, US National Criminal Justice Reference Abstract database, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction database, and hand searches of reference lists (January 1966 to January 2004).

Embedded ImageStudy selection and analysis:

Studies reporting prevalence of alcohol or substance abuse or dependence in prisoners during the previous year; diagnosed through examination or clinical interview using standardised, valid diagnostic tools. Exclusions: self-reported diagnosis; diagnosis based on biological markers alone, or unclear or non-standard criteria; non-randomised population selection; diagnosis reported retrospectively after prison release; high attrition rates (>50%); …

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  • For correspondence: Seena Fazel, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK; seena.fazel{at}

  • Source of funding: Oxfordshire Mental Healthcare NHS Trust.

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