Intelligence Assessment Instruments in Adult Prison Populations: A Systematic Review

A. Y.M. van Esch*, A. D. Denzel, E. J.A. Scherder, E. D.M. Masthoff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Detection of intellectual disability (ID) in the penitentiary system is important for the following reasons: (a) to provide assistance to people with ID in understanding their legal rights and court proceedings; (b) to facilitate rehabilitation programs tailored to ID patients, which improves the enhancement of their quality of life and reduces their risk of reoffending; and (c) to provide a reliable estimate of the risk of offence recidivism. It requires a short assessment instrument that provides a reliable estimation of a person’s intellectual functioning at the earliest possible stage of this process. The aim of this systematic review is (a) to provide an overview of recent short assessment instruments that provide a full-scale IQ score in adult prison populations and (b) to achieve a quality measurement of the validation studies regarding these instruments to determine which tests are most feasible in this target population. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses Statement is used to ensure reliability. The Satz-Mögel, an item-reduction short form of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, shows the highest correlation with the golden standard and is described to be most reliable. Nevertheless, when it comes to applicability in prison populations, the shorter and less verbal Quick Test can be preferred over others. Without affecting these conclusions, major limitations emerge from the present systematic review, which give rise to several important recommendations for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3225-3244
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

first published online: December 1, 2017


  • assessment
  • forensic mental health
  • intellectual disability
  • prison


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