Impact of antisocial lifestyle 'has been neglected'

April 17, 2003

Evidence suggests that an antisocial lifestyle is linked to illness, injury, and premature death, yet while links between deprivation and health have been widely studied, links between antisocial lifestyle and health have been neglected, according to two experts in this week's BMJ.

The impact of an antisocial lifestyle on health is increasingly well understood, write Professors Jonathan Shepherd and David Farrington. For example, early contact with the police, truancy, school misconduct, and divorce are significant predictors of premature death.

Studies have also found links between an antisocial lifestyle and injury, especially injury sustained in assaults at age 16-18 and on the roads or at work at age 27 to 32.

Family, school, and police interventions can reduce these health risks, say the authors. For example, pre-school education and management training for parents have helped to reduce a range of antisocial behaviours including offending and alcohol or other drug misuse.

Effective police interventions include patrols targeted at known hotspots of violence and arrest of serious repeat offenders, drunk drivers, and employed suspects of domestic violence.

Nowhere are the impacts of antisocial lifestyle on health more apparent than in prisons, add the authors. The recent transfer of responsibility for prison health services in England and Wales from the Home Office to the Department of Health is logical, and a prompt both to acknowledge relationships between crime, injury, and illness and to develop integrated prevention and treatment, they conclude.


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