Chronic medical conditions in U.S. adults with incarceration history

Health Psychol. 2019 Mar;38(3):217-225. doi: 10.1037/hea0000720.


Objectives: To examine the associations between incarceration history and chronic medical conditions in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults and whether risk for chronic medical conditions differ by sex and race among those with incarceration history.

Method: The data were from the 2012-2013 National Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions III (N = 36,133). Multiple logistic regression was used to compare odds of a self-reported diagnosis for 24 chronic medical conditions by incarceration history, as well as by sex and race within those with incarceration history.

Results: 12.4% of adults (SE = 0.35) reported a history of incarceration. When adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics, smoking status, and past year alcohol use, incarceration history was associated with significantly increased odds of most chronic medical conditions (adjusted odds ratio [AORs] range = 1.20-3.41). When additionally adjusted for childhood adversity and stressful life events, odds remained significantly elevated for hypertension, myocardial infarction, minor heart conditions, stomach ulcers, arthritis, sleep problems, anemia, bowel, lung, and nerve problems, liver diseases, HIV/AIDS, and sexually transmitted diseases (AORs range = 1.14-2.78). Relative to men with incarceration history, women with incarceration history reported significantly increased odds of multiple chronic disease conditions (AORs range = 1.22-6.60). Hispanic or non-Hispanic Black individuals with incarceration history showed significantly reduced risk for several chronic medical conditions, relative to their non-Hispanic White counterparts (AORs range = 0.30-0.75).

Conclusions: This study suggests that incarceration may be an important factor when considering health disparities, and also highlights the importance of acknowledging early adversity and ongoing life stressors when providing comprehensive health care for individuals with incarceration history. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prisoners / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Report
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult