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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 16-22

Association between intentional ingestion of foreign objects and psychiatric disease among prisoners: A retrospective study

1 Department of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
2 Department of Anesthesiology, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio, USA
3 Department of Anesthesiology, University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, Toledo, Ohio, USA
4 Department of Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
5 Department of Research and Innovation, St. Luke's University Health Network, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA
6 Department of Surgery, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio, USA

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2455-5568.209847

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Introduction: Intentional ingestion of foreign objects (IIFO) is prevalent among U.S. prisoners. IIFOs often require surgical or endoscopic interventions, extended hospital stays, and may result in significant morbidity or even mortality. Although psychiatric illness is prevalent among prisoners engaging in IIFO, this association remains poorly defined. The aim of this study is to describe the psychiatric illness profile among prisoners diagnosed with IIFO. We hypothesized that repeated episodes of IIFO are associated with an escalating pattern of documented psychiatric illness. Methods: After approvals were obtained from our Institutional Review Board and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, a retrospective study was conducted of prisoners presenting to our facility with IIFO between 2004 and 2011. All historical and concurrent psychiatric diagnoses were abstracted from the medical record and classified into Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition based categories. In addition, medical history, alcohol/drug use, and prior episodes of IIFO were recorded. Statistical analyses included Chi-square and Kruskal–Wallis tests for categorical and continuous data, respectively. Results: We analyzed 136 IIFO episodes involving 27 patients. Repeat IIFO episodes were associated with an increasing number of psychiatric diagnoses. Patients with their fifth or later IIFO had a larger number of psychiatric diagnoses and the number of objects ingested as compared to patients presenting with a first episode (P < 0.01). Similarly, patients who went on to present with additional episodes of IIFO during the study had more psychiatric diagnoses identified throughout their visits (P < 0.01). The proportion of patients with mood and anxiety disorders (including post-traumatic stress) was progressively greater among prisoners with recurrent episodes of IIFO (P < 0.05). Other psychiatric disorders were not significantly associated with IIFO escalation. Conclusions: We observed a significant association between IIFO recurrences and increases in both the quantity of ingested items and the number of documented psychiatric diagnoses. Of note, psychiatric diagnoses of malingering or secondary gain were not identified in the current patient sample. Consideration of early psychiatric evaluation and intervention in the setting of IIFO, especially recurrent IIFO, is strongly encouraged. The following core competencies are addressed in this article: Medical knowledge, Patient care, Systems-based practice.

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