Health inequalities of 57,541 prisoners in Korea: A comparison with the general population

Seohyun Yoon, Young Su Ju, Jaehong Yoon, Ji Hwan Kim, Bokyoung Choi, Seung Sup Kim

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1 Citation (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to examine health disparities between prisoners and the general population in Korea. METHODS: We sought to estimate the prevalence of 17 physical and mental diseases using the nationwide medication prescription dataset among the total population of prisoners (n = 57,541) in Korea. Age- and sex- standardized prevalence ratios (SPRs) were estimated to compare the disease prevalence between the prisoners and the general population. The disease prevalence for the general population was calculated from the prescription dataset for a representative of the Korean population (n = 926,246) from the 2013 Korean National Health Insurance Service-National Sample Cohort. Furthermore, the prevalence of these diseases was compared between prisoners and a low-income segment of the general population (n = 159,781). RESULTS: Compared to the general population, prisoners had higher prevalence of almost all physical and mental diseases, including hyperlipidemia (SPR, 20.18; 95% confidence interval [CI], 19.43 to 20.94), pulmonary tuberculosis (SPR, 9.58; 95% CI, 7.91 to 11.50), diabetes (SPR, 6.13; 95% CI, 5.96 to 6.31), cancer (SPR, 2.36; 95% CI, 2.07 to 2.68), and depression (SPR, 46.73; 95% CI, 44.14 to 49.43). When compared with the low-income population segment, higher prevalence were still found among prisoners for most diseases, including pulmonary tuberculosis (SPR, 6.39; 95% CI, 5.27 to 7.67) and depression (SPR, 34.71; 95% CI, 32.79 to 36.72). CONCLUSIONS: We found that prisoners were more likely to be unhealthy than the general population, even in comparison with a low-income segment of the general population in Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021033
JournalEpidemiology and health
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2015S1A3A2046566).

Publisher Copyright:
2021, Korean Society of Epidemiology


  • Correctional health
  • Korea
  • Prison health
  • Prison healthcare
  • Prison inmates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology


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