Background: Health-state utilities for prisoners have not been described.
Methods: We used data from a 1996 cross-sectional survey of Australian prisoners (n = 734). Respondent-level SF-36 data was transformed into utility scores by both the SF-6D and Nichol's method. Socio-demographic and clinical predictors of SF-6D utility were assessed in univariate analyses and a multivariate general linear model.
Results: The overall mean SF-6D utility was 0.725 (SD 0.119). When subdivided by various medical conditions, prisoner SF-6D utilities ranged from 0.620 for angina to 0.764 for those with none/mild depressive symptoms. Utilities derived by the Nichol's method were higher than SF-6D scores, often by more than 0.1. In multivariate analysis, significant independent predictors of worse utility included female gender, increasing age, increasing number of comorbidities and more severe depressive symptoms.
Conclusion: The utilities presented may prove useful for future economic and decision models evaluating prison-based health programs.