Health for prison population

Health for prison population: assessment of mental and physical health, and of social conditions of new inmates in the Nord Pas de Calais region (NPdC, France)

Physical and mental health for prison population remains a concern today for the medical community as well as for the political one. A few studies on the matter have already been conducted but the results differed depending on the methodology used. Furthermore, there are no recent standardized studies about health of inmates in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais prisons. Nevertheless, studies such as the Mental Health in the General Population Survey (SMPG) (DRASS NPdC 2008) show that this region’s population carries a more fragile mental condition than the average french general population (36% against 32%). It would therefore be appropriate to expect a fragile mental state of prison’s newly arrived inmates in this same region.
The main objective of the study is thus to assess the frequency of psychiatric disorders in recently arrived inmates in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, and secondarily to compare the results with those of the general population in the SMPG investigation.
This study was designed by the Lille University Hospital and WHO CC, and approved by the Regional Federation for Research in Mental Health (F2RSM, Nord Pas de Calais)

Study type

Multicentric epidemiological study evaluating a single group (prison population)

Centres number

9 centers for adults

Main Objective

Measure the frequency of psychiatric disorders with the "Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview" (MINI) for prison’s new inmates in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region (NPdC) : Mood Disorders (depressive episode, recurrent depressive disorder, dysthymia, mania), anxiety disorders (agoraphobia, panic disorder, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder), addictions (disorders related to alcohol abuse and drug use), psychotic disorder, suicidal risk and insomnia.

Secondary objectives

• Compare the results in the frequency of psychiatric disorders in prison’s new inmates in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region with those of the Mental Health Survey in General Population (SMPG) of NPdC.
• Assess physical health (ALD, CMU, the presence of a doctor, family history and medical, surgical and obstetric gynecology, allergy, immunization, physical examination, screening).
• Evaluate the sociodemographic status of the new inmates (age, sex, marital status, level of education, occupation, income, housing, protection measure, monitor socio-educational, religion, nationality, history of incarceration).
• Develop a regional indicator of the health and social conditions in prisons new arrivals.
• Establish a working basis for reflection on health, criminal policy and prison in the region.

The study received the following favorable reviews

• The Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des produits de santé (ANSM)
• Protection Committee people Northwest IV (CPP), the Advisory Committee on the treatment of research information in the field of health (CCTIRS).
• National Commission on Informatics and Liberties (CNIL)

Financial support of the study

The Regional Health Agency of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais provided funding for the survey "Population Health in prison" in connection with the call for projects "Prevention - Health Promotion 2013".


Two training sessions to assess the "Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview" (MINI) were conducted with 22 investigators, psychologists and nurses, in 9 different detention centers.

Publication : 

PTSD in prison settings: the need for direct comparisons with the general population. Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2021. Thomas Fovet, Marielle Wathelet,Ali Amad,Mathilde Horn,Bettina Belet,Jean-Luc Roelandt, Pierre Thomas,Guillaume Vaiva and Fabien D'Hondt