Incarceration Tied to Lower Life Expectancy in Blacks

Disparities in incarceration may partially explain the lower life expectancy of Blacks, authors say

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FRIDAY, Jan. 7, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Incarceration is associated with a higher mortality rate among Black individuals, according to a study published online Dec. 23 in JAMA Network Open.

Benjamin J. Bovell-Ammon, M.D., from Boston Medical Center, and colleagues examined whether incarceration in the United States is associated with an increase in mortality risk and whether this association is different for Black versus non-Black populations. The analysis included data from 7,974 individuals participating in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, with follow-up through 2018.

The researchers found that during 35 years of follow-up, 478 participants were incarcerated and 818 died. In an unadjusted analysis, exposure to at least one incarceration between the ages of 22 and 50 years was higher among Black participants (11.5 percent versus 2.5 percent for non-Black participants). Time-varying exposure to incarceration was associated with a higher mortality rate (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.35; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.97 to 1.88). However, when stratified by race, incarceration was significantly associated with increased mortality among Black participants (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.65; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.18 to 2.31) but not among non-Black participants (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.17; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.68 to 2.03).

"These findings suggest that incarceration, which was prevalent and unevenly distributed, may have contributed to the lower life expectancy of the non-Hispanic Black population in the United States," the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text


Physician’s Briefing Staff

Updated on May 24, 2022

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