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Prevalence of Mental Disorders Among Juvenile Offenders: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

44 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2019

See all articles by Kyoung-Sae Na

Kyoung-Sae Na

Gachon University - Department of Psychiatry

Seo Eun Cho

Gachon University - Department of Psychiatry



Background: Mental disorders play an important role both in clinical courses and recidivism among juvenile offenders. In view of the public health, prevalence of the mental disorders among the population is most fundamental element for planning strategy and establishing budget.

Methods: A systematic search was conducted in the Embase, PubMed, PsycInfo, Web of Science, and Google scholar for studies reporting the prevalence rate of mental disorders in May 2018. Systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to identify prevalence of mental disorders.

Findings: A total 51,209 (32,616 boys and 8,393 girls) juvenile offenders from 90 studies in the 27 countries were included. The mean prevalence rate of any mental disorder was 0.791 (95% CI 0.786-0.796). The mean number of mental disorders per person was 2.1 in boys and 3.0 in girls. Boys (0.669 (95% CI 0.663-0.674)) had a higher prevalence rate than girls (0.530 (95% CI 0.515-0.546)). Depressive disorder (0.343 (95% CI 0.325-0.361)) vs 0.131 (95% CI 0.126-0.137)), bipolar disorder (0.374 (95% CI 0.349-0.399)) vs 0.163 (95% CI 0.157-0.170)), and posttraumatic stress disorder (0.243 (95% CI 0.225-0.261)) vs 0.083 (95% CI 0.781-0.882)), were more common in girls than in boys. The prevalence of psychotic disorder 0.060 (95% CI 0.056-0.064) was 30-fold higher than that in the general population.

Interpretation: Mental disorders are substantially high among juvenile offenders. Active evaluation and intervention for the mental health are warranted particularly in offending girls.

Funding: None.

Declaration of Interest: We declare no competing interests.

Keywords: mental illness, meta-analysis, adolescents, criminals, forensic psychiatry

Suggested Citation

Na, Kyoung-Sae and Cho, Seo Eun, Prevalence of Mental Disorders Among Juvenile Offenders: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (January 22, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Kyoung-Sae Na

Gachon University - Department of Psychiatry

Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

Seo Eun Cho (Contact Author)

Gachon University - Department of Psychiatry ( email )

Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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