NCCHC Accreditation Associated With Lower Mental/Emotional Distress in HIV+ Inmates in Jails

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A study in the April 2015 issue of the Journal of Correctional Health Care evaluates the prevalence and predictors of mental/emotional distress among HIV+ jail detainees at enrollment. Of the 878 detainees studied, 52% had high levels of mental/emotional distress, as defined by the composite Addiction Severity Index score. High distress was associated with the inmate living in a city with lower income inequality, lower health ranking and higher degree of danger. Proximate variables included being female, bisexual orientation, poorer physical health and increased severity of substance abuse. Inmates in jails with NCCHC-accredited health services and those satisfied with family support had lower mental/emotional distress scores.

Authors Thomas Lincoln and colleagues state that the association between jail health services accreditation and less mental/emotional distress suggests a modifiable variable with direct policy implications, and that study results support the policies advocated by NCCHC and argue in favor of requiring NCCHC standards nationwide. The findings also indicate the need for expanded mental health assessment of HIV+ individuals entering jail.

The article is available online (free to subscribers, or purchase short-term access).