Racial disparities in visitation and health among older adults incarcerated in prison

Aging Ment Health. 2023 Jun;27(6):1086-1094. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2022.2098923. Epub 2022 Jul 12.

Abstract

Objectives: I sought to identify racial disparities in visitation and health between Non-White and White older adults incarcerated in prison and to examine the contribution of visitation to health among this vulnerable population.

Methods: Descriptive and bivariate statistics were calculated to describe the cross-sectional sample and relationships between visitation and health. Independent t-tests, Chi-square tests, and effect sizes were used to identify racial disparities in measures of and relationships between visitation and health. Hierarchical multiple linear regression was used to examine the contribution of visitation to physical functioning, chronic disease, and mental health.

Results: Older adults rated their physical functioning higher than their mental health. Over 70% of older adults received zero visits during their current incarceration (∼13 years) and White older adults received 10 times the number of visits than Non-White older adults. Increased visitation related to decreased physical functioning among Non-White older adults, a relationship distinct from that of White older adults (z=-3.14, p<.001) and visitation contributed to variation in older adults' mental health.

Conclusion: Future scholars are encouraged to examine factors associated with visitation and the quality of such visits for older adults. Further, visitation policies warrant amendment to increase visits and to enhance social support for older adults.

Keywords: Older adult; chronic disease; mental health; physical functioning; prison; race; visitation.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Prisoners*
  • Prisons
  • Racial Groups
  • White People*