Novel healthcare program for former prisoners reduces recidivism

May 02, 2019

New Haven, Conn. -- A healthcare program tailored to the needs of recently released prisoners can significantly reduce recidivism, according to a new study led by a Yale researcher. The findings show how an approach that provides community-based primary care can play a role in the nationwide effort to decrease prison populations.

The study was published by the journal BMJ Open.

Transitions Clinics are medical homes in 12 states and Puerto Rico that serve individuals recently released from incarceration who have chronic physical and behavioral health issues. This clinic care model is distinct because it employs community health workers who all have histories of incarceration. These workers accompany patients to appointments and also help them with the social, housing, and employment challenges of returning to their communities.

The research team, led by associate professor of medicine Emily Wang, M.D., analyzed data on nearly 200 individuals recently released from incarceration in Connecticut. Half of them received primary care at a Transitions Clinic; the other half had similar medical and criminal justice histories and had access to primary care, but not at Transitions. The researchers compared rates of reincarceration, as well as days in prison or jail, for the two groups over the course of one year.

The study found that patients who received Transitions Clinic care were less likely to be reincarcerated compared to those in the other group. In addition, clinic patients who were reincarcerated spent less time behind bars than those from the other group who returned to prison. Wang credited these changes to the clinic's employment of community health workers with a past history of incarceration.

The research team estimated that if recidivist members of the control group had received Transitions Clinic care, they would have spent on average 25 fewer days in jail. Having access to health care and social support from community health workers reduces mental health or substance use problems that might otherwise result in patients going back to prison, Wang noted.

"By reorganizing care, this healthcare model can actually make a dent in patients' future contact with the criminal justice system, and we know that this can impact their health, housing, and employment," she said.

While the findings provide strong evidence in support of the Transitions Clinic approach, said the scientists, more research is needed to test the model in other settings and in other states. Yet the study suggests that investing in community health workers could have the benefit of reducing the cost of incarceration, they added.

"The country is in a big shift to decarcerate," said Wang. "No one talks about the health system being involved in criminal justice reform -- but we should be."
Other study authors are Hsiu-ju Lin, Jenerius Aminawung, Susan H Busch, Colleen Gallagher, Kathleen Maurer, Lisa Puglisi, Shira Shavit, and Linda Frisman.

The study was supported by grants from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Yale University

Related Health Care Articles from Brightsurf:

Study evaluates new World Health Organization Labor Care Guide for maternity care providers
The World Health Organization developed the new Labor Care Guide to support clinicians in providing good quality, women-centered care during labor and childbirth.

Six ways primary care "medical homes" are lowering health care spending
New analysis of 394 U.S. primary care practices identifies the aspects of care delivery that are associated with lower health care spending and lower utilization of emergency care and hospital admissions.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

Spending on primary care vs. other US health care expenditures
National health care survey data were used to assess the amount of money spent on primary care relative to other areas of health care spending in the US from 2002 to 2016.

MU Health Care neurologist publishes guidance related to COVID-19 and stroke care
A University of Missouri Health Care neurologist has published more than 40 new recommendations for evaluating and treating stroke patients based on international research examining the link between stroke and novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Large federal program aimed at providing better health care underfunds primary care
Despite a mandate to help patients make better-informed health care decisions, a ten-year research program established under the Affordable Care Act has funded a relatively small number of studies that examine primary care, the setting where the majority of patients in the US receive treatment.

International medical graduates care for Medicare patients with greater health care needs
A study by a Massachusetts General Hospital research team indicates that internal medicine physicians who are graduates of medical schools outside the US care for Medicare patients with more complex medical needs than those cared for by graduates of American medical schools.

The Lancet Global Health: Improved access to care not sufficient to improve health, as epidemic of poor quality care revealed
Of the 8.6 million deaths from conditions treatable by health care, poor-quality care is responsible for an estimated 5 million deaths per year -- more than deaths due to insufficient access to care (3.6 million) .

Under Affordable Care Act, Americans have had more preventive care for heart health
By reducing out-of-pocket costs for preventive treatment, the Affordable Care Act appears to have encouraged more people to have health screenings related to their cardiovascular health.

High-deductible health care plans curb both cost and usage, including preventive care
A team of researchers based at IUPUI has conducted the first systematic review of studies examining the relationship between high-deductible health care plans and the use of health care services.

Read More: Health Care News and Health Care Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to