The use of psychodiagnostic tests in forensic psychiatric reports within the framework of internment. An exploratory study of records on internees in the judicial district of Ghent
background In Belgium there is now a new law on the detention of mentally disordered offenders. The main problems with psychiatric reports compiled by experts concern the indistrict legal framework and the lack of financial resources; both of these factors may affect the quality of the reports. Earlier studies have shown that only a few standardised tests are used to substantiate the conclusions reached in the reports.
aim To examine to what extent forensic psychiatrists use diagnostic tools to substantiate the conclusions in their reports.
method We based our study on a sample consisting of 84 records of recent cases dealt with by the Committee for the Protection of Society (cps) of the judicial district of Ghent.
results We found that diagnostic tools were used in 63% of the cases studied.
conclusion In spite of the difficult circumstances in which a forensic psychiatrist has to work, test instruments were used regularly in diagnostics. Moreover, most of the test instruments used were considered acceptable according to the scientific literature. The study has shown the need for a clear-cut legal framework involving criteria that forensic psychiatrists must meet when conducting their research. Inspiration for these criteria is to be found in the Netherlands where psychiatrists are already working with a specific format for forensic psychiatric reports.