Traumatic Brain injury and Criminal Justice

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Traumatic brain injury represents a significant health concern within the criminal justice system. Researchers have shown high prevalence rates among male and female offenders and have attempted to draw a link between TBI and subsequent offending behaviour. However, diverse methodological approaches, and inherent challenges of working within criminal justice systems, have led to difficulties when comparing study findings.

Many published studies have failed to use valid and reliable outcome measures to determine the presence and extent of TBI. The appropriateness of outcome measures for use with offender samples who possess low literacy levels is also cause for concern. Researchers have also been criticised for failing to acknowledge issues of accuracy in recall of childhood injuries among adult populations. In order to improve our understanding of TBI among offenders, researchers should attempt to standardise definitions of injury and employ robust and appropriate methods of data measurement. Offenders with TBI represent an extremely complex and vulnerable population who often experience multiple and chronic health conditions. As such we must ensure our findings can be employed to bring about recognition and improvement in their outcomes.

by Dr Mark Linden "Dr Mark Linden is a senior lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland."

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