Is All Psychiatry Forensic? Association between Mental Disorders and Legal Proceedings


Arch. Clin. Psychiatry (São Paulo)




ABSTRACT Background: Psychiatric disorders cause significant impact to the individual, leading to lack of productivity and involvement with the legal system. Objectives: The present study aims to determine the association of mental disorders and an individuals’ odds of involvement with the legal system Methods: Through a descriptive cross-sectional study, 126 patients selected according to convenience sampling were interviewed for the study on their appointment days at University of São Paulo School of Medicine hospital. They were divided into a case group (n = 63) with patients from the outpatient clinic of the Department of Psychiatry and a control group (n = 63), with patients from the outpatient clinic of Department of Internal Medicine. These patients were asked to answer a questionnaire on sociodemographic information, age, medical diagnosis, and legal proceedings as related to their diagnoses. Results: We found high difference between the groups, in longer absences 57.10% of psychiatric patients, with only 33.3% in clinical group. This difference also appears in the requirement for forensic medical exams - 65.1% of psychiatric patients versus 44.4% of clinical patients. Discussion: This data clearly shows that involvement of psychiatric patients in legal matters is quite common, and therefore it is increasingly important for psychiatrists to be aware of legal implications when evaluating their patients.

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