Hard time: the stressful nature of incarceration for women

Issues Ment Health Nurs. 1993 Oct-Dec;14(4):367-77. doi: 10.3109/01612849309006900.


This descriptive, correlational study explored the stressful life event of incarceration for women prisoners and examined its relationship to selected health outcomes. Interviews with 55 women during their first week of incarceration and after 6 months in prison provided the data for analysis. Specific stresses of incarceration identified by the women included separation from families, worry about their children, and loss of control of their own lives. Psychological stress at time of incarceration was found to be positively related to depression and weight gain after 6 months of incarceration. Strategies to decrease the stressful nature of incarceration and improve the health status of incarcerated women are recommended.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Weight Gain
  • Women / psychology*