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 current study examines the relationship between social determinants and the physical health of incoming federal Canadian offenders.

The current study included all men admitted to CSC institutions between April 1, 2012 and September 30, 2012 (N = 2,273) who consented to an intake health assessment. Logistic regression analyses were used to explore whether age group, Aboriginal ancestry, and each of the individual social determinants significantly predicted the individual physical 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: 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 the 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 programs.

Lynn A. Stewart, Amanda Nolan, Jennie Thompson, Jenelle Power
International Journal of Prisoner Health, 2018