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Am J Public Health. 2013 May;103(5):e38-44. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301255. Epub 2013 Mar 14.

Neighborhood incarceration rate and asthma prevalence in New York City: a multilevel approach.

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  • 1Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02120, USA.



We examined the association between neighborhood incarceration rate and asthma prevalence and morbidity among New York City adults.


We used multilevel modeling techniques and data from the New York City Community Health Survey (2004) to analyze the association between neighborhood incarceration rate and asthma prevalence, adjusting for individual-level sociodemographic, behavioral, and environmental characteristics. We examined interactions between neighborhood incarceration rate, respondent incarceration history, and race/ethnicity.


The mean neighborhood rate of incarceration was 5.4% (range = 2.1%-12.8%). Neighborhood incarceration rate was associated with individual-level asthma prevalence (odds ratio [OR] = 1.06; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.03, 1.10) in unadjusted models but not after adjustment for sociodemographic characteristics (OR = 1.01; 95% CI = 0.98, 1.04). This association did not differ according to respondent race/ethnicity.


Among New York City adults, the association between neighborhood incarceration rate and asthma prevalence is explained by the sociodemographic composition of neighborhoods and disparities in asthma prevalence at the individual level. Public health practitioners should further engage with criminal justice professionals and correctional health care providers to target asthma outreach efforts toward both correctional facilities and neighborhoods with high rates of incarceration.

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