Impact of prison on women's health.
Article Type: Brief article
Subject: Women prisoners (Health aspects)
Prisons for women (Health aspects)
Prisons for women (Psychological aspects)
Health promotion (Management)
Public health (Management)
Public health (Demographic aspects)
Pub Date: 10/01/2009
Publication: Name: Community Practitioner Publisher: Ten Alps Publishing Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Ten Alps Publishing ISSN: 1462-2815
Issue: Date: Oct, 2009 Source Volume: 82 Source Issue: 10
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Product: Product Code: 8000120 Public Health Care; 9005200 Health Programs-Total Govt; 9105200 Health Programs NAICS Code: 62 Health Care and Social Assistance; 923 Administration of Human Resource Programs; 92312 Administration of Public Health Programs
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United Kingdom Geographic Code: 4EUUK United Kingdom
Accession Number: 209163259
Full Text: Imprisonment is largely perceived by women prisoners as having a negative effect on their health, a study has found. In 2006, almost 12 000 women were in custody in the UK, and prisoners tend to come from socially marginalised backgrounds with persistent health inequalities. Women prisoners report higher rates of violent victimisation and ill health on a range of physical and mental health indicators. The impact of a government health promotion strategy for prisons based on 'healthy settings' is unclear. To explore women prisoners' perceptions of the impact of imprisonment on their health, researchers undertook focus groups and individual interviews with adult women prisoners in two closed local prisons.

The women reported that imprisonment impacted negatively upon their health. The initial shock of imprisonment, separation from families and enforced living with other women suffering drug withdrawal and serious mental health problems affected their own mental health. They complained of detention in unhygienic facilities by regimes operated to disempower them, including in the management of their own health, and described health negating responses to imprisonment such as increased smoking. However, imprisonment could also offer a respite from poverty, social exclusion, substance misuse and violence, with perceived improvements in health. Initiatives such as the government's response to the Corston Review and the Department of Health offender health strategy make it timely to re-evaluate health promotion efforts to develop more realistic approaches that take the views and experiences of women prisoners into account, conclude the authors.

Douglas N, Plugge E, Fitzpatrick R. The impact of imprisonment on health: what do women prisoners say? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2009; 63(9): 749-54.
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