There is empirical support for an association between childhood adverse life events and psychopathology in adult offenders. This systematic review aims to summarise the literature that measures the predictive value of childhood adverse life events on mental illness and personality disorders in prisoners in custody. Forty-seven studies were identified. The studies examined a total of 49,163 participants (36,055 males, 13,108 females). The number of offenders in each study ranged from 43 to 16,043. Childhood abuse and neglect were primarily examined. There was support that these subtypes of childhood adverse life events are associated with several psychiatric disorders, in particular substance abuse and psychopathy. Additionally, there were differences across male and female prisoners both in terms of the numbers of studies that looked at specific psychopathologies, and the associations between specific childhood adverse life event subtypes and future psychiatric difficulties. Methodological considerations, future research, and clinical implications are discussed.
- Childhood adverse life events
- Gender differences
- Mental illness
- Personality disorder
- Systematic review