Prevalence of chronic medical conditions among inmates in the texas prison system

Amy J. Harzke, Jacques G. Baillargeon, Sandi L. Pruitt, John S. Pulvino, David P. Paar, Michael F. Kelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

61 Scopus citations

Abstract

Given the rapid growth and aging of the US prison population in recent years, the disease profile and health care needs of inmates portend to have far-reaching public health implications. Although numerous studies have examined infectious disease prevalence and treatment in incarcerated populations, little is known about the prevalence of non-infectious chronic medical conditions in US prison populations. The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence of selected non-infectious chronic medical conditions among inmates in the Texas prison system. The study population consisted of the total census of inmates who were incarcerated in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for any duration from September 1, 2006 through August 31, 2007 (N=234,031). Information on medical diagnoses was obtained from a system-wide electronic medical record system. Overall crude prevalence estimates for the selected conditions were as follows: hypertension, 18.8%; asthma, 5.4%; diabetes, 4.2%; ischemic heart disease, 1.7%; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 0.96%; and cerebrovascular disease, 0.23%. Nearly one quarter (24.5%) of the study population had at least one of the selected conditions. Except for asthma, crude prevalence estimates of the selected conditions increased monotonically with age. Nearly two thirds (64.6%) of inmates who were ≥55 years of age had at least one of the selected conditions. Except for diabetes, crude prevalence estimates for the selected conditions were lower among Hispanic inmates than among non-Hispanic White inmates and African American inmates. Although age-standardized prevalence estimates for the selected conditions did not appear to exceed age-standardized estimates from the US general population, a large number of inmates were affected by one or more of these conditions. As the prison population continues to grow and to age, the burden of these conditions on correctional and community health care systems can be expected to increase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-503
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Volume87
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2010

Keywords

  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Prison health care
  • Prisoners

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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