Prison health and public health responses at a regional prison in Western Australia

Marisa Gilles, E. Swingler, C. Craven, Ann Larson

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    16 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: To describe the health of inmates in a Western Australian regional prison and evaluate the coverage of public health interventions.Design: Cross-sectional audit of all paper-based and electronic medical notes of inmates at one regional prison in Western Australia.Setting: A mixed medium-security prison in regional Western Australia.Participants: 185 prisoners, 170 men and 15 womenMain Results: The prisoners were mainly young (70% < 35 years of age) and Indigenous (84%). Fifty two percent of prisoners had at least one chronic health condition. There was a significantly higher prevalence of diabetes to that found in the general Indigenous population (15% vs 6% p=0.001), and a significantly lower prevalence hepatitis C (4.5%) compared with both national (29-61%) and State (20%) data. Screening for sexually transmitted infections and blood borne viruses within the first month of incarceration was achieved for 43% of inmates. Vaccination coverage for influenza (36%) and pneumococcal disease (12%) was low.Conclusion: This study makes visible the burden of disease and reach of public health interventions within a largely Indigenous regional prisoner population. Our study demonstrates that the additional risks associated with being Indigenous remain in a regional Australian prison but also shows that interventions can be delivered equitably to Indigenous and non-Indigenous inmates.Implications: Ongoing monitoring of prisoner health is critical to take advantage of opportunities to improve public health interventions with timely STI and BBV screening and increased vaccinations rates.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)549-553
    JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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