Guest editorial: The health of incarcerated women in BC

This theme issue is dedicated to all women in BC who are, and who have been, incarcerated.


Most physicians in BC will eventually encounter patients in their medical practices who have previous or current incarceration experience. These women can have problems that are medically complex and they may be particularly vulnerable. Physicians are often at a loss when dealing with the vast physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of women who have been incarcerated, and can provide better care by knowing more about this population. 

To aid in this, we present three educational and thought-provoking articles, beginning with “The scope of the problem: the health of incarcerated women in BC.” This article provides an overview of the correctional system, the health problems faced by incarcerated women, and the connection between health and recidivism. 

The second article, “Collaborative community-prison programs for in­car­cerated women in BC,” describes some innovative initiatives for incarcerated women in BC. These include a screening mammography program, an HIV outreach program, a therapeu­tic program, a holistic learning and healing program for Aboriginal wo­men, an infant and mother health initiative, prison health education for UBC medical students and residents, and a nutrition and exercise program developed by incarcerated women themselves. 

The third and final article in this theme issue, “Future directions for the health of incarcerated women in BC,” describes improved continuity of care in Nova Scotia, where the pro­vincial Ministry of Health is res­ponsible for delivering health care to provincial inmates, and findings from European research indicating the need to address gender inequity in correctional systems worldwide. ­We also include a patient handout that physicians may give to female patients who have been released from prison.

Acknowledgments
We would like to acknowledge Mr Joshua Lau, MPH, who assisted with the invaluable administrative tasks of editing and formatting all the manuscripts for this issue, and gathering the necessary authorship signature forms.


Dr Elwood Martin is a clinical professor in the University of British Columbia Department of Family Practice and director of the Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education at UBC. Dr Buxton is an associate professor at the School of Population and Public Health at UBC. Ms Smith is the former coordinator of the Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education. Dr Hislop is a clinical professor at the School of Population and Public Health at UBC and a retired epidemiologist at Cancer Control Research, BC Cancer Agency.

Ruth Elwood Martin, MD, FCFP, MPH, Jane Buxton, MD, FRCPC, Megan Smith, BSc,, T. Gregory Hislop, MDCM. Guest editorial: The health of incarcerated women in BC. BCMJ, Vol. 54, No. 10, December, 2012, Page(s) 500-501 - Clinical Articles.



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