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Comment & Response |

A More Robust Test of the Penrose Hypothesis

Alexander C. Tsai, MD, PhD1,2,3; Atheendar S. Venkataramani, MD, PhD3,4
[+] Author Affiliations
1Chester M. Pierce, MD, Division of Global Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
2Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda
3Center for Global Health, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
4Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
JAMA Psychiatry. 2015;72(7):735-736. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.0212.
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To the Editor Mundt et al1 should be applauded for attempting to bring new data to bear on a research question of substantive policy significance. However, we are concerned that their analysis overlooked a point of critical significance. While they argued that their findings “cannot be explained by a simple overall trend to reduce numbers of beds and increase prison populations,” they failed to adjust for secular changes in the underlying determinants of crime.2 Neither did Lamb,3 who argued in the accompanying editorial that longitudinal data are needed to appropriately test the Penrose hypothesis, comment on the need to do so. Such adjustment would be considered standard practice in the analysis of panel data,4 particularly given the challenges of drawing causal inferences from cross-national panel data.5

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July 1, 2015
Adrian P. Mundt, MD; Winnie S. Chow, MSc; Stefan Priebe, FRCPsych
1Unit of Social and Community Psychiatry, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Services Development, Queen Mary University of London, London, England2Escuela de Medicina sede Puerto Montt, Universidad San Sebastián, Puerto Montt, Chile
1Unit of Social and Community Psychiatry, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Services Development, Queen Mary University of London, London, England
JAMA Psychiatry. 2015;72(7):736. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.0217.
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