Crime and health: a preliminary study into the effects of crime on the mental health of UK university students

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  2. Dr Sue Pattison
Author(s)Morrall P, Marshall P, Pattison S, MacDonald G
Publication type Article
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
ISSN (print)1351-0126
ISSN (electronic)1365-2850
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Abstract: In this paper we report on the findings from a preliminary study in the UK into the effects of crime on health. The aim of the study was to investigate what victims of crime report to be the effects of both actual crime and the fear of crime on their physical and psychological health (as well as social well-being) and what actions they take (if any) to deal with these effects. A survey method was adopted using a modified version of the ‘Health, Quality of Life and Crime Questionnaire’ with 866 undergraduate student respondents from three UK universities. University students were selected as the sample population because, as a group, they form a specific ‘victim community’. Conclusions extrapolated from the respondents' replies were first, there are serious negative health effects (particularly on psychological health) of a considerable minority of those students who are victims of crime. Second, the vast majority of the victims did not initiate any health intervention. Third, a large minority of the victims did not report the crime to the police. Fourth, a majority of both victims and non-victims suffered psychological negative effects from the fear of crime. Fifth, there is a huge gender imbalance among those affected by crime with female students much more fearful of crime than men. Moreover, female students were much more likely to use specific strategies to lower the risk of crime. These conclusions suggest that there may be important policy implications for universities, the police, victim support organizations and mental health services, regarding the effects of crime on students. This study is intended as a preliminary stage for subsequent in-depth and larger projects.
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