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Ann Intern Med. 2015 Mar 3;162(5):345-52. doi: 10.7326/M14-2161.

The state of research funding from the National Institutes of Health for criminal justice health research.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Over 20 million Americans are currently or have been incarcerated. Most are from medically underserved populations; 1 in 3 African American men and 1 in 6 Latino men born in 2001 are projected to go to prison during their lifetime. The amount of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to understand and improve the health of persons involved with the criminal justice system is unknown.

OBJECTIVE:

To describe NIH funding for research on the health and health care needs of criminal justice-involved persons.

DESIGN:

Review of NIH grants (2008-2012) in the RePORT (Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools) database.

SETTING:

U.S. criminal justice system.

PATIENTS:

Criminal justice-involved persons participating in NIH-funded clinical research.

MEASUREMENTS:

NIH research and training grants awarded, by number, type, research area, institute or center, and dollar amount.

RESULTS:

Of more than 250 000 NIH-funded grants, 180 (<0.1%) focused on criminal justice health research. The 3 most common foci were substance use or HIV (64%), mental health (11%), and juvenile health (8%). The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Mental Health funded 78% of all grants. In 2012, the NIH invested $40.9 million in criminal justice health research, or 1.5% of the $2.7 billion health disparities budget for that year.

LIMITATION:

NIH-supported research that did not explicitly include current or former prisoners but may have relevance to criminal justice health was not included.

CONCLUSION:

Federal funding for research focused on understanding and improving the health of criminal justice-involved persons is small, even compared with the NIH's overall investment in health disparities research. The NIH is well-positioned to transform the care of current and former prisoners by investing in this critical yet overlooked research area.

PMID:
25732276
PMCID:
PMC4652644
DOI:
10.7326/M14-2161
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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