, 2:6,
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Date: 25 Mar 2014

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

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.