describes the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the sample. Women represented 11.6% of US jail inmates and had a mean age of 33.4 years (95% CI=33.0, 33.9), which was nearly 2 years older than the mean age of male inmates (31.7 years; 95% CI=31.4, 32.1). Jail inmates were relatively young—more than 60% were aged 35 years or younger—but they were disadvantaged on demographic and socioeconomic measures that are often associated with poor health. More than 40% of men and 36% of women were non-Hispanic Black. Sixty-two percent of men and 48% of women were never married. More than half of inmates had less than a high school diploma. About one quarter of men and just less than one half of women had no job or business in the month before they were incarcerated. Twelve percent of men and 17% of women were homeless in the year before their arrest. The significant differences between men and women in age, race, marital status, education, employment, and homelessness support the importance of adjusting for these factors when examining gender differences in this population.
Demographic and Socioeconomic Characteristics of US Jail Inmates: Survey of Inmates in Local Jails, 2002
compares medical conditions, psychiatric disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse and dependence among male and female inmates. In univariate comparisons, women were more likely than were men to report each of the medical and psychiatric conditions. Some of the conditions were highly prevalent in this relatively young sample: 17.3% of men and 21.9% of women reported hypertension, and12.7% of men and 20.2% of women reported arthritis. Depression and bipolar disorders were exceptionally common among female inmates. Men were more likely to exhibit drug abuse alone, and women were more likely to exhibit drug dependence (with or without abuse). Men were more likely to exhibit alcohol abuse or dependence. Women reported a history of injection drug use more often than men.
Percentage of Inmates Reporting Chronic Medical Conditions, Psychiatric Disorders, Substance Abuse, or Substance Dependence, by Gender: Survey of Inmates in Local Jails, 2002
presents odds ratios comparing female inmates to male inmates after adjusting for other factors. Model 1, which was adjusted for age and race, demonstrates that women had significantly higher odds of reporting each of the medical conditions. Compared with men, women’s odds of chronic medical conditions ranged from 1.24 for hypertension (95% CI=1.06, 1.45) to 2.14 for diabetes (95% CI=1.66, 2.78) and up to 7.74 for cancer (95% CI=5.59, 10.72). Differences in cancer by gender were no longer statistically significant after predominantly gender-specific cancers (breast, cervical, uterine, ovarian, prostate, and testicular) were removed from consideration (OR=1.52; 95% CI=0.90, 2.58). Women were more likely than were men to report each of the psychiatric disorders, after adjustment for age and race (model 1).
Association Between Female Gender and Medical Conditions, Psychiatric Disorders, and Drug and Alcohol Dependence, by Analytic Model: Survey of Inmates in Local Jails, 2002
Gender differences in medical conditions persisted after adjustment for demographic and socioeconomic factors, as demonstrated by model 2. For example, women were 7.41 times (95% CI=5.15, 10.66) more likely than were men to report any kind of cancer, after adjustment for demographic and socioeconomic factors (age, race, marital status, education, homelessness, and employment), just slightly higher than the odds in model 1, when only age and race were included (OR=7.74; 95% CI=5.59, 10.72). The single exception was cirrhosis: after adjusting for demographic and socioeconomic factors, the odds ratio comparing women to men for cirrhosis was no longer statistically significant. Gender differences in psychiatric disorders also persisted after adjustment for demographic and socioeconomic factors (model 2), although the difference in psychotic disorders was no longer statistically significant. Women had 1.46 times the odds of drug dependence (95%CI=1.25,1.70) and 0.69 times the odds of alcohol dependence (95% CI=0.60, 0.80) compared with men after adjustment for demographic and socioeconomic factors.
Adjusting for drug and alcohol dependence in model 3 did not eliminate the gender differences in the medical conditions or psychiatric disorders; in some cases, adjusting for drug and alcohol dependence marginally increased the differences. Although there were gender differences in drug and alcohol dependence, those differences did not mediate the relationship between gender and the medical or psychiatric disorders examined. We also found that women were no more likely to have received a medical examination during the current jail admission than were men.