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Scand J Public Health. 2013 Jul;41(5):479-85. doi: 10.1177/1403494813479215. Epub 2013 Mar 1.

Finnish female prisoners - heavy consumers of health services.

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Prison Health Services, Finland.



Previous prison studies show that female prisoners often have more health problems than male prisoners do and that they have many chronic health conditions. Few studies have been made among offenders concerning the use of health services, and even fewer concerning physical diseases. We studied the self-reported lifetime somatic diseases, the use of health services and the current use of prescription medicines among Finnish female prisoners and compared them with males.


The sample consisted of 101 females and 309 male prisoners as controls. The study included several questionnaires and interviews conducted by experienced prison nurses.


The women had more commonly genitourinary, virus hepatitis/HIV infections and group "other diseases" than the men. Over 80% of the women and men have had accidents/injuries. Four out of five women, and half of the men, used some medicine regularly. Of the females, 92% (80% of the males) reported lifetime hospital care and 65% (61%) treatment in surgery department, respectively; 70% of the females (53% of the males) reported lifetime use of any psychiatric service; 66% of the women (46% of the men) had received psychiatric out-patient services, and 43% (31%) psychiatric in-patient hospital care and 38% (30%) substance abuse services, respectively.


The heavy use of health services among female prisoners resulted mainly from the use of services for substance use and other mental disorders and treatment in surgery department. Compared to men, the difference in using health services was associated with psychiatric services.


Female; health service; prisoners; service use

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