• Article

A captive audience: bringing the WISEWOMAN program to South Dakota prisoners

PURPOSE: This analysis compares the baseline heart disease risk profile of WISEWOMAN participants screened in the South Dakota Women's Prison with the general WISEWOMAN population in South Dakota and explores the potential benefits of lifestyle intervention programs to reduce heart disease risk factors among women during incarceration. METHODS: Using baseline data for WISEWOMAN participants in South Dakota, we compared participants who were enrolled in prison (n = 261) with nonincarcerated participants enrolled throughout the state (n = 1,427). Using regression analysis and adjusting for demographics, we assessed differences in baseline prevalence of risk factors (hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking, and obesity), awareness and treatment of hypertension and high cholesterol, and attendance at lifestyle intervention sessions. RESULTS: Incarcerated participants had significantly lower (p < .01) total cholesterol (183 mg/dL) than nonincarcerated participants (199 mg/dL). However, a significantly higher (p < .03) percentage of incarcerated women (85%) than nonincarcerated women (54%) with high cholesterol were unaware of their condition. Despite the smoke-free status of the prison, 24% of incarcerated participants reported smoking. Attendance at lifestyle intervention sessions was significantly higher among incarcerated participants than among nonincarcerated participants with intervention take-up rates of 53% among incarcerated versus 23% among nonincarcerated women (p < .01) and intervention completion rates of 43% and 4% (p < .01). CONCLUSIONS: The results illustrate the need for screening and education programs in prisons. WISEWOMAN screenings helped identify undiagnosed cases of abnormal blood pressure and cholesterol, and educational interventions provided women with opportunities to improve their health. Such programs may also improve discharge planning and linkages between released women and community health providers


Khavjou, O., Clarke, J., Hofeldt, RM., Lihs, P., Loo, RK., Prabhu, M., ... Will, JC. (2007). A captive audience: bringing the WISEWOMAN program to South Dakota prisoners. Women's Health Issues, 17(4), 193-201.