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Evaluation of a gender-specific program for incarcerated women with mental illness

11 December 2006


This study explored the effectiveness of a gender-specific treatment for mentally ill women in prison. Prior to this study, no researchers have examined outcomes of women receiving gender-specific treatment in prison. This research evaluated a new program implemented in the Oregon correctional system that considers gender in psychological treatments. Female inmates who received treatment in the Special Management Unit (SMU) in 2004 participated in this study. The Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI), disciplinary reports (DRs), SMU Outcome Measure, and a questionnaire assessing subjective experiences in the SMU were used as outcome measures. It was expected that severity of symptoms would decrease on the PAI, DRs would decrease, there would be improvement in the SMU Outcome Measure, and the women would report that the gender-specific considerations aided them in their stay at the SMU. These hypotheses received limited supported. Trends were noted in that the severity of the symptoms as measured by the PAI increased after treatment, DRs decreased, observable psychiatric symptoms decreased, and the women reported some gender-specific elements to be helpful in their treatment. Although the findings were interesting, this is an area of research that requires further exploration in order to fully assess the usefulness of this type of psychological treatment.


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