Intellectual Disabilities Among Prisoners: Prevalence and Mental and Physical Health Comorbidities

Mike Hellenbach*, Thanos Karatzias, Michael Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


Limited evidence suggests that people with ID (ID) are overrepresented in prisons although prevalence rates of ID among prisoners vary significantly across studies, making it difficult to identify prevalence and assess existing need.

A systematic review of relevant literature was conducted, and results were organized and compared in relation to study aims, design, measures used to screen for ID, sample, limitations and key findings.

Existing international data suggest a prevalence of prisoners with ID between 7 and 10%. Most frequent coexisting health issues among this population are hearing and vision impairments, obesity, diabetes and a range of mental health disorders, notably anxiety and personality and conduct disorders.

More research is required on prevalence rates and associated comorbidities of ID within prison settings, taking into account the heterogeneity of the population with ID.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-241
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number2
Early online date18 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • comorbidities
  • criminal justice
  • intellectual disability
  • offenders
  • prevalence
  • prison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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