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Survey Of Psychiatrists On Forensic Psychiatric Assessments In Singapore

Tor Phern Chern, Yap Hwa Ling


Introduction: The quality of forensic psychiatry assessments in Singapore has come under recent criticism from the judiciary resulting in a loss of confidence in forensic psychiatric assessments. There is no local published standards or practice guidelines for forensic psychiatric assessments. We set out to survey local psychiatrists on various key aspects of local forensic psychiatric assessments. Methods: A survey was developed by two local senior psychiatrists with extensive experience in forensic psychiatry. It was sent out electronically to all Singapore registered psychiatrists. Results: The response rate was 33.6% (48 of 143 psychiatrists). Respondents agreed that risk assessment and management, capacity and competence assessments and critical appraisal of symptoms were specific forensic psychiatry skill sets. There was also a consensus that separation of treating versus assessment roles and an independent panel of psychiatrist would be useful. There was no clear consensus on which psychiatrists should perform forensic assessments or if language used and time taken for assessments were important. The estimated time for assessments ranged from 1.9 hour (SD 1.3) to 9.1 hours (SD 5.4) with time required for criminal > civil > capacity assessments. Private sector psychiatrists were more likely than public sector psychiatrists to feel that forensic psychiatric qualifications were not necessary to conduct forensic assessments. Conclusion: There is a consensus in the local psychiatric community on various key aspects of forensic psychiatric assessment. Stakeholders in forensic assessments should begin a dialogue on the way forward for forensic psychiatric assessments in Singapore. ASEAN Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 13 (2): July - December 2012: XX XX.