Original Research

Adverse childhood experiences, mental illness, HIV and offending among female inmates in Durban, South Africa

Samantha Naidoo, Saeeda Paruk, Liezel Ferreira, Ugasvaree Subramaney
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 30 | a2108 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v30i0.2108 | © 2024 Samantha Naidoo, Saeeda Paruk, Liezel Ferreira, Ugasvaree Subramaney | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 May 2023 | Published: 24 January 2024

About the author(s)

Samantha Naidoo, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Saeeda Paruk, Discipline of Psychiatry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Liezel Ferreira, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Ugasvaree Subramaney, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Childhood adversities and adult trauma are common among female inmates. Associations have been documented with childhood adversities and mental illness, personality disorders, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and violent offending. However, no such study had been conducted in South Africa (SA), despite the high prevalence of HIV and trauma in SA.

Aim: To measure the prevalence of childhood adversities and adult trauma; and to determine if there is a relationship between childhood adversities, mental illness, personality disorders, HIV and violent offending among female inmates.

Setting: The study was conducted at the largest correctional centre in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Methods: This cross-sectional, descriptive study randomly recruited 126 female inmates. The World Health Organization’s Adverse Childhood Experiences- International Questionnaire (WHO ACE-IQ) was used to measure childhood adversities; the Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual-5 Research Version (SCID 5-RV) was used to diagnose mental illness; and a structured questionnaire was used to measure adult trauma. Human immunodeficiency virus data was confirmed from prison medical records.

Results: Elevated rates of individual childhood adversities and adult trauma were found. Associations were found between cumulative childhood adversities and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder, borderline personality disorder, and HIV.

Conclusion: Female inmates are a highly traumatised population. Prison mental health services should provide trauma-informed and trauma-focussed care to improve inmates’ mental health outcomes and decrease recidivism.

Contribution: This study contributes to the emerging literature on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their associations among incarcerated female populations, in a low- and middle-income, South African setting.


Keywords

adverse childhood experiences; mental illness; violent offending; HIV; female inmates; South Africa

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

Metrics

Total abstract views: 457
Total article views: 267


Crossref Citations

No related citations found.