• Journal Article

A New Vulnerable Population? The Health of Female Partners of Men Recently Released from Prison

Citation

Wildeman, C., Lee, H., & Comfort, M. (2013). A New Vulnerable Population? The Health of Female Partners of Men Recently Released from Prison. Women's Health Issues, 23(6), E335-E340. DOI: 10.1016/j.whi.2013.07.006

Abstract

Background: Despite a growing literature on the consequences of having a romantic partner incarcerated on women's risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, little research considers the broader health profile of the female partners of ever-imprisoned men. Methods: We use data from the Relate Project (n = 332), a unique cross-sectional survey of recently released men and their female partners (2009-2011), to demonstrate that the female partners of recently released men suffer from a variety of health risks and conditions. We also examine the health conditions of females by their own incarceration history. Findings: We find that these women engage in poor health behaviors including smoking, drug use, and excessive alcohol consumption and have high levels of health conditions including asthma, hypertension, anxiety, and depression. The vulnerability of women who had themselves been incarcerated in jails or prisons was especially acute. The number of risky background characteristics such as dropping out of high school (45%) and spending time in foster care or a group home (36%) were staggeringly high for ever-imprisoned women, as were their rates of anxiety (50%), depression (59%), and posttraumatic stress disorder (45%). Conclusions: Results reveal that the health of the female partners of recently released men is at least as poor as that of their male partners, suggesting a degree of vulnerability that has yet to be considered in the medical or public health literature and a population that desperately needs medical attention with the full rollout of the Affordable Care Act in 2014. Copyright (C) 2013 by the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. Published by Elsevier Inc