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Developing and Validating a Brief Jail Mental Health Screen for Women, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2007
39 pages
This study tested whether the Brief Jail Mental Health Screen-Revised (BJMHS-R) improved the results from the previous validation study prior to the revision, particularly for female jail detainees.
Although the false negative rates (rates of failing to identify serious mental disorders when they were present) for both males and females were lower in the new validation study, the overall accuracy of the BJMHS-R was hampered by a much higher false positive rate (falsely identified a serious mental disorder). For the BJMHS-R, the false positive rates were 67.6 percent for men and 61.7 percent for women, compared with 48.6 percent for men and 45.1 percent for women under the original BJMHS. This would result in a higher rate of mental health referrals overall with the revised screen. The study concluded that the original BJMHS was more powerful than the BJMHS-R. The findings reinforce the value of the original instrument in screening for mental health in men, and they suggest that the earlier reservations about its use for women were overstated. It can facilitate the implementation of universal mental health screening for all jail detainees. It can be administered in 2-3 minutes and requires only modest training for corrections officers to administer it at booking. Currently, the BJMHS is the most accurate brief mental health screening instrument available. Study participants were 10,562 male and female jail detainees admitted to 1 of 4 county jails from November 2005 to June 2006. The participants were predominantly male (84.2 percent), with 55.5 percent being African-American, and with an average age of 31.9 years. 3 tables, 23 references, and appended BJMHS

Date Published: September 1, 2007