389 Incarceration & Health

Research by Udo, Tomoko. (2019)

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S. 

Are those who have been incarcerated in their past at a greater risk for later health concerns? 

Psychologist Dr. Udo assessed if there’s a connection between an individual’s incarceration history and chronic medical conditions. She assessed if this risk differs by gender and race among participants.

Dr. Udo used data from the National Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions III on 36,000 individuals. Each participant reported their history of incarceration and medical diagnosis received in the past year. Additionally, they reported childhood abuse and the number of stressful life events.

Results? Those with prior incarceration had higher incidents of childhood abuse, traumatic life events, and total number of medical conditions. History of childhood abuse and stressful life events led to a higher number of specific medical conditions. Females, but not males, with an incarceration history showed a higher number of chronic diseases.

If you are working in the health field, it is important to consider incarceration history. This research indicates the possibility that those with prior incarceration may have experienced child abuse, traumatic life events and higher stress that may need addressing along with medical issues.


Udo, T. (2019). Chronic medical conditions in U.S. adults with incarceration history. Health Psychology, 38(3), 217-225.

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