Preventive healthcare for underserved women: Results of a prison survey

Ank E. Nijhawan, Rachel Salloway, Amy S. Nunn, Michael Poshkus, Jennifer G. Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Objectives: We sought to determine the preventive healthcare needs of incarcerated women in the following areas: cervical cancer and breast cancer screening, sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening, hepatitis screening and vaccination, and smoking cessation. Methods: A cross-sectional interview survey of a random sample of 100 incarcerated women at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) in Cranston, Rhode Island, was conducted. Results: Participants were 62% white, 11% African American, 13% Hispanic, and 14% of mixed race. Mean age was 35 years. Of those surveyed, 67% reported having had a Papanicolou (Pap) smear in the past year, the strongest predictor of which was having received a Pap smear while incarcerated. Of the inmates >40 years old, 58% reported having had a mammogram in the past 2 years. The majority (88%) reported testing for STIs in the past, and 39% desired testing during their current incarceration. As for hepatitis C, 70% had been tested previously and 37% of those reported testing positive. Hispanics were less likely than whites to have been tested for hepatitis C (OR 0.1). Over half (54%) of the women who reported testing positive for hepatitis C also reported having completed the hepatitis A and B vaccine series. Among smokers (80% of all survey participants), 61% were interested in quitting. Those who had been incarcerated multiple times were less likely to want to quit smoking (OR 0.1). Conclusions: Incarceration presents a unique opportunity to provide preventive healthcare to high-risk, medically underserved women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-22
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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