157170 Health Disparities in Action: Blacks State prison inmates outlive people on outside

Tuesday, November 6, 2007: 2:50 PM

Anthony M. Sallar, PhD; MPH; MBA , School of Health Sciences, Ohio University, Athens, OH
Background On January 21st 2007, using data from 2001 through 2004, the US Justice Department Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that State prison inmates, particularly blacks are living longer on average than people on the outside with a mortality rate of 250/100,000 compared to 308/100,000. Whereas white and Hispanic prisoners had death rates slightly higher than their counterparts in the general population, for blacks, the rate was 57% lower than among the overall black population (206 versus 484).

The average lifespan of persons in the United States has lengthened but blacks still lag behind. In 2002 the Institute of Medicine issued a report, “Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Car”. The report summarizes racial differences in healthcare utilization and outlines a nationwide program to address these disparities. So important is health disparities that one of the two overarching goals of Healthy People 2010 is its elimination. Some reasons attributed to health disparities include lack of access and uneven standards of care and information, racism, cultural insensitivity, and quality of life. This study examines these issues vis a vis what pertains in the prison population.

Methods Review of the literature on most striking health disparities, data from state prisons on health care, providers, and screening and cost of incarceration.

Results Apart from decreased exposure to violence, incarcerated blacks are likely to enjoy the same health facilities, care, screening and prompt attention that their white colleagues receive in jail. This equality is unavailable to non incarcerated black population.

Conclusion While prisoners' rights and care are imperative, it is a disheartening paradox that being in jail decreases mortality. This is counter to social justice and requires immediate public/social policy attention. There are suggestions to address these disparities with regard to inherent causes relating to uneven standards of care, providers training, culturally sensitive approaches in practice of medicine, improvements in the healthcare delivery system, healthcare funding, increased access to care, quality of care, racism, culture, lifestyle and individual behaviors.

Learning Objectives:
After attending this session participants will be able to: 1. Compare mortality associated with blacks, Whites, and Hispanics in State prisons with the respective resident populations not in jails. 2. Identify the key dimensions of health disparity 3. Assess which disparities are counter to social justice and equity and call for immediate public/social policy attention 4. Recognize that one of the two overarching goals of Healthy People 2010 is the elimination of health disparities which includes differences that occur by gender, race or ethnicity, education or income, disability, geographic location, or sexual orientation.

Keywords: African American, Health Disparities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.