Women and men who have been incarcerated suffer a high prevalence of illness, including chronic disease, cancer, infectious disease, mental illness and substance use. They tend to suffer perpetual social exclusion and are disproportionally affected by the socio-economic determinants for poor health, such as poverty, low health literacy and unstable housing.
In 2005-7, women engaging in participatory health research inside a BC prison identified nine health goals as necessary for their successful re-integration into society. A follow-up study to determine barriers to the nine goals, experienced by women during their first 12 months following release from prison, suggests that incarcerated people have limited access to preventive health programs. International research with male prison leavers demonstrated similar results.
In this community-based participatory research project, researchers from the UBC Collaborating Centre of Prison Health and Education (CCPHE) will partner with Women in2 Healing and Long Term Inmates Now in the Community to use participatory approaches to design and pilot preventive health tools/programs, and methods to evaluate them, with women and men with past incarceration experience who live in BC communities. It is hoped that BC health organisations and provincial and federal correctional institutions across Canada will adopt recommendations from this project, leading to sustainable improvements in preventive health for incarcerated men and women.