A history of recent imprisonment can affect an individual's access to primary care. In a study of access to care during the high-risk period following prison release, researchers phoned to request an initial appointment with all family physicians in British Columbia, Canada accepting new patients (n=339). Participants were sequentially assigned patient scenarios: male or female recently released from prison and male or female control group. Those who presented as having recently been released from prison were significantly less likely than controls to be offered an initial appointment with a primary care physician. The likelihood of obtaining an appointment was almost two times greater for controls compared to those who reported a recent prison history; 43 percent of those reporting recent release from prison obtained an appointment compared to 84 percent of controls. There was no difference in the likelihood of obtaining an appointment between male and female callers who reported recent release. Even in the context of a universal health care system, recent imprisonment may be a barrier to access to primary care, the authors state. They call for policies and programs to support people in gaining access to health care during the challenging transition from prison to the community.
Access to Primary Care for Persons Recently Released From Prison
Ruth Elwood Martin, MD MPH, et al
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada