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Psychiatric well-being among men leaving prison reporting a history of injecting drug use: A longitudinal analysis.

Stewart AC, Cossar R, Lee Wilkinson A, Scott N, Dietze P, Quinn B, Kinner SA, Aitken C, Walker S, Curtis M, Butler T, Ogloff JRP, Stoové M

  • Journal The Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry

  • Published 24 Sep 2021

  • Volume 56

  • ISSUE 8

  • Pagination 1034-1043

  • DOI 10.1177/00048674211048143


Community reintegration from prison is typically stressful, with several health and social outcomes impacting psychiatric well-being during this time, often exacerbated among individuals with histories of drug use. Longitudinal data was used to assess change in psychiatric well-being over 2 years following release from prison among men who reported a recent history of injecting drug use.

Data for this study come from the Prison and Transition Health cohort study of 400 men recruited in prison prior to release and followed up over three time points. Psychiatric well-being was assessed using the 12-item General Health Questionnaire. We calculated change in individual General Health Questionnaire scores between interviews and identified covariates associated with General Health Questionnaire score using linear mixed-effects regression.

Data from 690 follow-up interviews among 326 participants were included in analyses. There was considerable variation in individuals' General Health Questionnaire scores. Moving accommodation frequently and frequent illicit drug injections were associated with an increase in General Health Questionnaire score (i.e. decline in psychiatric well-being). Two or more prior adult imprisonment episodes, social supports and past month primary healthcare attendance were associated with a decrease in General Health Questionnaire score.

Our findings identify health, social and structural influences on psychiatric well-being after release from prison that can inform re-entry programmes to support community reintegration.