Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Joseph A. Burleson, Ph.D., Anne C. Black, Ph.D.

Field of Study

Public Health


Master of Public Health

Open Access

Open Access


It is estimated that one in four U.S. adults have a mental illness and that nearly half will develop a mental illness during their lifetime, with one in 17 people in the general population suffering from a severe mental illness (SMI). The high prevalence of SMI in conjunction with its presumed link with violence, suggests substantial risk to the public. Evidence remains inconsistent in determining if this link exists. Some suggest that specific SMI’s such as schizophrenia and other psychosis–related disorders increase risk for violence, while others have reported no association (Fazel, et al., 2009). Establishing the validity of this link is necessary to formulate appropriate policies to address the risk of violence to the entire population. The aim of this study was to take a closer look at self-reported violent and nonviolent crimes within a population of severely mentally ill and substance-using individuals enrolled in treatment programs in Connecticut, paying close attention to comorbidities of different psychiatric and substance use disorders shown to increase risk of violent acts. This study used data from the Abstinence Linked Money Management–Multi-site Study conducted by Dr. Marc Rosen at Yale University. The regression analysis revealed that specific SMIs (anxiety, mood and schizophrenic disorders) and substance dependence disorders (alcohol, opioid and cocaine) did not predict history of crime among individuals with SMI who used cocaine. The data indicated specific behavioral health diagnoses were not associated with committing either non-violent or violent crimes.

Major Advisor

Jane A. Ungemack, Dr.P.H