A scoping review of military veterans involved in the criminal justice system and their health and healthcare [2019]

Background
In the criminal justice system, special populations, such as older adults or patients with infectious diseases, have been identified as particularly vulnerable to poor health outcomes. Military veterans involved in the criminal justice system are also a vulnerable population warranting attention because of their unique healthcare needs. This review aims to provide an overview of existing literature on justice-involved veterans’ health and healthcare to identify research gaps and inform policy and practice.

Methods
A systematic search was conducted to identify research articles related to justice-involved veterans’ health and healthcare that were published prior to December 2017. Study characteristics including healthcare category, study design, sample size, and funding source were extracted and summarized with the aim of providing an overview of extant literature.

Results
The search strategy initially identified 1830 unique abstracts with 1387 abstracts then excluded. Full-text review of 443 articles was conducted with 252 excluded. There were 191 articles included, most related to veterans’ mental health (130/191, 68%) or homelessness (24/191, 13%). Most studies used an observational design (173/191, 91%).

Conclusions
Knowledge gaps identified from the review provide guidance on future areas of research. Studies on different sociodemographic groups, medical conditions, and the management of multiple conditions and psychosocial challenges are needed. Developing and testing interventions, especially randomized trials, to address justice-involved veterans care needs will help to improve their health and healthcare. Finally, an integrated conceptual framework that draws from diverse disciplines, such as criminology, health services, psychology, and implementation science is needed to inform research, policy and practice focused on justice-involved veterans.

Andrea K. Finlay, Mandy D. Owens, Emmeline Taylor, Amia Nash, Nicole Capdarest-Arest, Joel Rosenthal, Jessica Blue-Howells, Sean Clark & Christine Timko
Health & Justice, volume 7, Article number: 6 (2019)
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