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14-03-2019 | Uitgave 7/2019 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 7/2019

Predicting quality of life during and post detention in incarcerated juveniles

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 7/2019
E. L. de Ruigh, A. Popma, J. W. R. Twisk, R. W. Wiers, H. S. van der Baan, R. R. J. M. Vermeiren, L. M. C. Jansen
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Besides reducing recidivism, juvenile justice institutions aim to rehabilitate juvenile delinquents, in order for them to reintegrate in society. As such, improving quality of life (QoL), especially post detention, is an important treatment goal. However, research is primarily focused on recidivism as an outcome measure for juvenile detention. The aim of the current study is therefore to describe and predict QoL of detained young offenders up to 1 year after an initial assessment, and to examine whether QoL differs between youth who are still detained versus released.


A sample of 186 juveniles admitted to juvenile justice institutions in the Netherlands was assessed within the institution (initial assessment/T0), using psychosocial and neurobiological factors as predictors (self-control, treatment motivation, trauma, mental health problems, respiratory sinus arrhythmia). QoL (MANSA), as well as substance use (alcohol, cannabis) and daily activities (education, work) were assessed at first, second, and third follow-up (respectively 2.5 months, 4.5 months, and 12 months after T0).


QoL increased from first to third follow-up, and was higher for individuals who were no longer detained. The model that best predicted higher QoL upon follow-up consisted of lower trauma and stronger parasympathetic nervous system reactivity. The effects of the predictors did not differ between the various follow-ups, nor between individuals who were or were not detained.


Methods incorporating trauma-sensitive focus and relaxation techniques in treatment protocols in juvenile justice institutions may be of added value in improving the general functioning of these individuals.

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