Objectives: We examined the association of family member incarceration with cardiovascular risk factors and disease by gender.
Methods: We used a sample of 5470 adults aged 18 years and older in the National Survey of American Life, a 2001-2003 nationally representative cross-sectional survey of Blacks and Whites living in the United States, to examine 5 self-reported health conditions (diabetes, hypertension, heart attack or stroke, obesity, and fair or poor health).
Results: Family member incarceration was associated with increased likelihood of poor health across all 5 conditions for women but not for men. In adjusted models, women with family members who were currently incarcerated had 1.44 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.03, 2.00), 2.53 (95% CI = 1.80, 3.55), and 1.93 (95% CI = 1.45, 2.58) times the odds of being obese, having had a heart attack or stroke, and being in fair or poor health, respectively.
Conclusions: Family member incarceration has profound implications for women's cardiovascular health and should be considered a unique risk factor that contributes to racial disparities in health.