An examination of the causes of mortality following imprisonment in New South Wales using data-linkage. [ 2003 - 2005 ]

Research Grant

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Researchers: Prof Tony Butler (Principal investigator) ,  Mr Alan Brnabic Prof Matthew Law Prof Michael Levy

Brief description Prisoner populations are characterised by poor health status including infectious diseases, injury, risk taking behaviours (eg. smoking and self-harm), mental illness, and substance abuse. Serosurveys of blood borne viruses such as hepatitis C and hepatitis B conducted in Australian and overseas prison settings have found that over one third of inmates have been exposed to these viruses with higher rates detected in injecting drug users and female inmates. Few attempts have been made to examine the causes of mortality among prisoners following release from detention. Most interest has focused on overdoses in the period immediately following release; the aim of this study will examine all causes of death among individuals exposed to the correctional environment and compare these to death rates for NSW. Correctional centres house a largely male (94% in NSW) population with backgrounds of disadvantage in all areas, including Indigenous Australians, people of lower socio-economic status, those with a mental illness, and the intellectually disabled. There are currently over 21,000 (June 2001) prisoners detained in Australian correctional centres with approximately 39% housed in NSW. Fifteen percent of the NSW prisoners are Indigenous but comprise only 2% of the general population. The aims of this project will be to: (1) Identify all causes of death among ex-prisoners in NSW for the period 1985 to 2001; (2). Compare death rates in the study group with those in the NSW community; (3) Correlate pre-release health information contained in medical records with specific causes of death; (4) Compare causes of mortality among various sub-groups eg. injecting drug users, the mentally ill, violent offenders, and the intellectually disabled; (5) Examine causes of mortality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous inmates; and (6) use this information to develop pre-release programmes aimed at reducing excess mortality among this group.

Funding Amount $AUD 205,500.00

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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