Social determinants of health among Canadian inmates – 2018

International studies indicate that offenders have higher rates of infectious diseases, chronic diseases, and physical disorders relative to the general population. Although social determinants of health have been found to affect the mental health of a population, less information is available regarding the impact of social determinants on physical health, especially among offenders. The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between social determinants and the physical health status of federal Canadian offenders.

The study included all men admitted to federal institutions between 1 April 2012 and 30 September 2012 (n=2,273) who consented to the intake health assessment. Logistic regression analyses were used to explore whether age group, Aboriginal ancestry, and each of the individual social determinants significantly predicted a variety of health conditions.

The majority of men reported having a physical health condition and had experienced social determinants associated with adverse health outcomes, especially men of Aboriginal ancestry. Two social determinants factors in particular were consistently related to the health of offenders, a history of childhood abuse, and the use of social assistance.

Research limitations/implications
The study is limited to the use of self-report data. Additionally, the measures of social determinants of health were indicators taken from assessments that provided only rough estimates of the constructs rather than from established measures.

A better understanding of how these factors affect offenders can inform strategies to address correctional health issues and reduce the impact of chronic conditions through targeted correctional education and intervention programmes.

Lynn A. Stewart, Amanda Nolan, Jennie Thompson, Jenelle Power
International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 14 Issue: 1, 2018