Exploring the Association between Race and Health among Older Adults Who Are Incarcerated

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By bhadmin February 2, 2021

One of the little known ironies in the field of prison health is the notion that prison may actually have health-stabilizing effects for some groups. This study contributes to this line of inquiry by examining a variety of physical and mental health indicators among an older cohort of prisoners. Furthermore, this study’s focus on race addresses a notable gap in the growing literature on older prisoner health. A cross-section of 625 males who were incarcerated residing in a northeastern state prison system was surveyed and data on self-reported health status and stress and individual demographics characteristics were collected. Univariate and multivariate logistic regressions were used to quantify racial differences with respect to self-reported stress after adjusting for potential confounders. Results suggest that Black men who are older and incarcerated appear to be more resilient than White men who are older. An association was found between race and self-reported stress though not statistically significant. Health status is a significant predictor of self-reported stress in univariate and multivariate analyses. Having ever committed a violent offense and having received mental health services (in and out patient) are statistically associated with self-reported stress. Black men who were older in this study appear to cope better with stress related to incarceration than White men who were older, which may in turn affect other physical and mental health outcomes. Future research is needed to address factors that stabilize health and reduce stress among a racially diverse, aging prison population.

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