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Disease Profile of Texas Prison Inmates

NCJ Number
Date Published
23 pages
Publication Series
This study examined the prevalence of major acute and chronic conditions in the Texas prison population, one of the Nation's largest.
Whereas prison inmates are reported to have poorer overall health and higher rates of health-care use than the general population, there is no current information on the overall disease profile of the U.S. prison population. This study is part of an effort to remedy this gap in information on inmate health. The study population consisted of 170,215 Texas inmates who were incarcerated between August 1997 and July 1998. The institution-wide medical information system provided information on medical conditions and sociodemographic factors. The findings showed that infectious diseases constituted the most prevalent major disease category among inmates (29.6 percent). This was followed by diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue (15.3 percent), diseases of the circulatory system (14 percent), mental disorders (10.8 percent), and diseases of the respiratory system (6.3 percent). Among the specific conditions examined, tuberculosis infection without active pulmonary disease was found to be the most prevalent condition (20.1 percent), followed by hypertension (9.8 percent), asthma (5.2 percent), low back pain (5.1 percent), and viral hepatitis (5 percent). The study concluded that for a number of conditions, the prison population in Texas exhibited prevalence rates substantially higher than those recorded for the general population. Estimates for a number of diseases varied substantially according to age, race, and gender. As information of this type becomes more available, U.S. correctional administrators can develop more efficient health care delivery systems for prison inmates. 6 tables and 34 references

Date Published: January 1, 1999