Mental and substance use disorders among legal intervention injury cases in California, 2005–2014

Kriszta Farkas, Ellicott C. Matthay, Kara E. Rudolph, Dana E. Goin, Jennifer Ahern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Police use of force is an important public health issue in the US. Recent high-profile incidents suggest a potential link between mental disorders and police use of force, however little research has examined their co-occurrence in the general population. We aimed to assess the overall association between specific mental and substance use disorders (MSUDs) and nonfatal legal intervention injury. We identified nonfatal legal intervention injury cases (n = 90,099) and MSUD diagnoses from all hospital and emergency department (ED) records in California between 2005 and 2014. Age-, sex-, and race-standardized MSUD prevalence estimates among legal intervention injury cases, stratified by inpatient status, were compared to general US population-based estimates from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Compared to the general US population, nonaffective psychoses, mood disorders, alcohol use disorders, and drug use disorders were substantially overrepresented among inpatient legal intervention injuries (prevalence difference [PD]: 19.2%, (95% confidence interval [CI]: 18.0, 20.4); PD: 15.3%, (95% CI: 13.9, 16.7); PD: 21.1%, (95% CI: 19.8, 22.4); PD: 29.7%, (95% CI: 28.4, 31.0), respectively). Associations for all except mood disorders were similar but attenuated among ED injury cases. In contrast, anxiety disorders were underrepresented in both inpatient and ED injury cases. Results for mood disorders and suicidal ideation were mixed. In summary, MSUDs characterized by more overt behavioral symptoms were substantially overrepresented among legal intervention injury cases. Findings support the potential importance of interventions to improve treatment and law enforcement recognition of such disorders. Additional research should disentangle the complex relationship between MSUDs and legal intervention injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-140
Number of pages5
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019


  • Legal intervention injury
  • Mental disorders
  • Police use of force
  • Substance use disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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