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Health Justice. 2014 Mar 25;2:6.

Discrimination based on criminal record and healthcare utilization among men recently released from prison: a descriptive study.

Author information

1
Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, US ; Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Denver, CO, USA.
2
Section of General Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.
3
Department of Sociology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
4
Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA ; Urban Health Program, RTI International, San Francisco, CA, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Healthcare discrimination based on race/ethnicity is associated with decreased healthcare access and utilization among racial/ethnic minority patients. Discrimination based on criminal record may also negatively impact healthcare access and utilization among ex-prisoners.

METHODS:

We conducted a secondary analysis of data from a cross-sectional survey of 172 men recently released from state prison. We examined the association between self-reported criminal record discrimination by healthcare workers and utilization of 1) emergency department (ED) and 2) primary care services. We created staged logistic regression models, adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and self-reported racial/ethnic discrimination.

RESULTS:

Among 172 male participants, 42% reported a history of criminal record discrimination by healthcare workers. Participants who reported discrimination were older (mean, 42 vs. 39 years; p = .01), more likely to be college educated (26% vs. 11%; p = .03), and had more extensive incarceration histories (median years incarcerated, 16 vs. 9; p = .002) compared to those who did not report discrimination. Self-reported criminal record discrimination by healthcare workers was significantly associated with frequent ED utilization [odds ratio (OR) = 2.7, 95% confidence interval 24 (CI) 1.2-6.2] but not infrequent primary care utilization [OR = 1.6, 95% CI 0.7-3.8].

CONCLUSIONS:

Recently released prisoners report criminal record discrimination by healthcare workers, and this experience may impact healthcare utilization. Future studies should seek to further characterize criminal record discrimination by healthcare workers and prospectively examine its impact on health outcomes.

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