Psychological distress among re-education through labour camp detainees in Guangxi Autonomous Region, China

Lorraine Yap, Shu Su, Lei Zhang, Wei Liu, Yi Chen, Zunyou Wu, Jianghong Li, Handan Wand, Basil Donovan, Tony Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: There is currently no information about the prevalence of, and factors contributing to psychological distress experienced by re-education through labour camp detainees in China. Methods: A cross-sectional face-to-face survey was conducted in three labour camps in Guangxi, China. The questionnaire covered socio-demographic characteristics; sexually transmissible infections (STIs); drug use; psychological distress (K-10); and health service usage and access inside the labour camps. K-10 scores were categorised as ≤30 (low to moderate distress) and  >30 or more (highly distressed). Univariate and multivariate logistic regression models identified factors independently associated with high K-10 scores for men and women separately. Results: In total, 755 detainees, 576 (76%) men and 179 (24%) women, participated in the health survey. The study found 11.6% men versus 11.2% women detainees experienced high psychological distress, but no significant gender differences were observed (p> 0.05). Multivariate logistic regression showed that multiple physical health problems were significantly associated with high psychological distress among men. Conclusion: Drug treatment and forensic mental health services need to be established in detention centres in China to treat more than 10% of detainees with drug use and mental health disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-65
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • China
  • K-10
  • labour camps
  • prisoners
  • psychological distress

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