Depressive symptoms in older adults with and without a history of incarceration: A matched pairs comparison

Victoria L. Steigerwald, David C. Rozek, Daniel Paulson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Previous research has found that many incarcerated individuals have mental health conditions and that incarcerated women may be at elevated risk. These individuals have been shown to experience mental health concerns shortly after their release, but little is known about their mental health later in life. This study compared depressive symptoms in older adults with and without a history of incarceration and examined the impact of gender on this relationship. Method: Data from 160 pairs of adults aged 65 or older (82.5% male, mean age = 73.4 years) who participated in the 2012 wave of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) was utilized. Older adults with a history of incarceration were matched to those without based on age, gender, race, and education level. Depressive symptoms (CES-D) of older adults with and without a history of incarceration were compared using a repeated-measures ANOVA. Results: The main effect of incarceration history (p=.001, partial eta2 =.07) and the interaction between incarceration history and gender (p=.01, partial eta2 =.04) were significant. Follow-up analyses revealed that the difference between depressive symptoms for older women with and without a history of incarceration was significant (p=.02, d = 0.69), whereas the difference for older men was not significant (p=.19, d = 0.16). Conclusions: Findings suggest older adults with a history of incarceration report more depressive symptoms than those without and that the effect is seen among older women. Negative effects of incarceration on mental health may therefore persist into later life, highlighting the importance of pre- and post-release mental health services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2179-2185
Number of pages7
JournalAging and Mental Health
Volume26
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Depression
  • former inmates
  • incarceration
  • older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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