How Incarceration Affects Family Health

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The health-related effects of having an incarcerated family member during childhood can extend well into adulthood, according to a new study in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

Researchers analyzed data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a longitudinal survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, which includes responses related to the effects of having had a household member incarcerated during childhood.

Among respondents to the survey, 6.5 percent were exposed to having a member of their household incarcerated during their childhoods. They were more likely to report both recent physical and mental health-related quality of life issues in the survey.

Asked about overall mental health in the previous 30 days, 10 percent of the general population reported suffering “unhealthy mental days,” compared to 23 percent among those exposed to household incarceration during childhood.

For physical ailments, 11 percent of the general population reported recent problems, compared to 15 percent among those exposed to household incarceration during childhood.

More than one-third (36%) of respondents with exposure to household incarceration during childhood experienced other adverse experiences of childhood, including abuse, exposure to drugs and having a mentally ill household member according to the study. About 6 percent of the general population reported similar experiences.

The full study is available HERE, but is only available to certain academic institutions.

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