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Prison Health Research

Our Department has a program of research on the health of people who experience imprisonment in Canada. Our work in this area involves collaboration and consultation with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, as well as researchers in other disciplines at McMaster and in other institutions.

In this program of research, we focus on the prevention of imprisonment, improving health care in prisons, and supporting continuity of health care on release.

In prior research, our group has found that this population in Ontario has high rates of illness and a high risk of death.

Currently, we are using correctional and health administrative data to describe health status and health care utilization for almost 50,000 people released from provincial prison in Ontario in 2010. Specific projects include:

  • Describing the use of health care in prison and in the community after release, including use of primary care and participation in primary care models, use of emergency departments, and hospitalization. This project is funded by the Physicians’ Services Incorporated Foundation and the College of Family Physicians of Canada.
  • Defining the prevalence of developmental disabilities in this population and health care utilization for this population. This project is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services.
  • Examining the HIV care cascade for people in provincial prison. This project is funded by the Ontario HIV Treatment Network.
  • Defining the prevalence of adverse maternal and infant outcomes. This project is funded by the Regional Medical Associates of Hamilton.

We are also conducting other projects to explore important aspects of health status:

  • A qualitative study on barriers to continuity of care at the time of release from prison in Hamilton and opportunities to improve continuity of care, with funding from the Department of Family Medicine.
  • A systematic review and meta-analysis of experiences of child abuse in people in prison in Canada.
  • A qualitative study on pregnancy and contraception in women who experience imprisonment in Hamilton, with funding from the Regional Medical Associates of Hamilton.

Program Lead