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BACKGROUND The increase in prisoner population is a troublesome reality in several regions of the world. Along with this growth there is increasing evidence that prisoners have a higher proportion of mental illnesses and suicide than the general population. In order to implement strategies that address criminal recidivism and the health and social status of prisoners, particularly in mental disordered offenders, it is necessary to assess their care needs in a comprehensive, but individual perspective. This assessment must include potential harmful areas like comorbid personality disorder, substance misuse and offending behaviours. The Camberwell Assessment of Need - Forensic Version (CANFOR) has proved to be a reliable tool designed to accomplish such aims. The present study aimed to validate the CANFOR Portuguese version. METHODS The translation, adaptation to the Portuguese context, back-translation and revision followed the usual procedures. The sample comprised all detainees receiving psychiatric care in four forensic facilities, over a one year period. A total of 143 subjects, and respective case manager, were selected. The forensic facilities were chosen by convenience: one prison hospital psychiatric ward (n=68; 47.6%), one male (n=24; 16.8%) and one female (n=22; 15.4%) psychiatric clinic and one civil security ward (n=29; 20.3%), all located nearby Lisbon. Basic descriptive statistics and Kappa weighted coefficients were calculated for the inter-rater and the test-retest reliability studies. The convergent validity was evaluated using the Global Assessment of Functioning and the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale scores. RESULTS The majority of the participants were male and single, with short school attendance, and accused of a crime involving violence against persons. The most frequent diagnosis was major depression (56.1%) and almost half presented positive suicide risk. The reliability study showed average Kappa weighted coefficients of 0.884 and 0.445 for inter-rater and test-retest agreement, respectively. The convergent validity study presented highly significant correlations between unmet needs scores, GAF and BPRS scores. CONCLUSIONS The CANFOR Portuguese version revealed similar psychometric properties to the original English version. Moreover, the results of the reliability and validity studies indicate that the tool is appropriate for individual care needs assessment and as a guide for the mental health and social interventions in forensic psychiatric services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-169
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number157
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2013


  • Forensic psychiatry
  • Needs assessment
  • Mental disorders
  • Mentally disordered offenders
  • Prisoners
  • Prison


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