Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health

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Volume 29 Issue 2 (April 2019), Pages 69-130

Emergency health service contact and reincarceration after release from prison: A prospective cohort study (pages 85-93)

Abstract Background Adults released from prison often have complex health needs. They are at high risk of poor health outcomes and reincarceration, with health service use unlikely to be planned. Aims/hypotheses To determine the incidence of emergency health service (EHS) use, ambulance attendance and/or emergency department presentation, among 1,181 adults released from Australian prisons. We hypothesised that EHS contact would be associated with increased reincarceration risk. Methods Baseline surveys were conducted within 6 weeks before release. Postrelease EHS contacts and reincarceration were identified through prospective data linkage. For each participant, EHS contacts within a 24‐hour period were combined to make an episode. We used Cox proportional hazards regression to examine the relationship between EHS episodes and reincarceration, controlling for covariates. Results More than half (53.3%) of participants had at least one EHS contact over a median of 25.6‐month follow‐up. In adjusted analyses, compared to those with no EHS contacts, the hazard of reincarceration was greater for participants who had one to three EHS episodes (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.84; 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.48, 2.29]) or four or more (HR = 2.35; 95% CI [1.67, 3.29]). Conclusions/implications for practice Emergency department attendance by people with a history of imprisonment may be indicative of wider decompensation. Improved management of such patients may improve health outcomes and have collateral benefits for reducing reincarceration.

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