||Purpose Besides reducing recidivism, juvenile justice institutions aim to rehabilitate juvenile delinquents, in order for them
to reintegrate in society. As such, improving quality of life (QoL), especially post detention, is an important treatment goal.
However, research is primarily focused on recidivism as an outcome measure for juvenile detention. The aim of the current
study is therefore to describe and predict QoL of detained young offenders up to 1 year after an initial assessment, and to
examine whether QoL differs between youth who are still detained versus released.
Methods A sample of 186 juveniles admitted to juvenile justice institutions in the Netherlands was assessed within the
institution (initial assessment/T0), using psychosocial and neurobiological factors as predictors (self-control, treatment motivation,
trauma, mental health problems, respiratory sinus arrhythmia). QoL (MANSA), as well as substance use (alcohol,
cannabis) and daily activities (education, work) were assessed at first, second, and third follow-up (respectively 2.5 months,
4.5 months, and 12 months after T0).
Results QoL increased from first to third follow-up, and was higher for individuals who were no longer detained. The model
that best predicted higher QoL upon follow-up consisted of lower trauma and stronger parasympathetic nervous system
reactivity. The effects of the predictors did not differ between the various follow-ups, nor between individuals who were or
were not detained.
Conclusion Methods incorporating trauma-sensitive focus and relaxation techniques in treatment protocols in juvenile justice
institutions may be of added value in improving the general functioning of these individuals.