This report presents the methodology and findings of an evaluation of Hampden County's (Massachusetts) public health model of correctional health care, which emphasizes early detection, effective treatment, education, prevention, and continuity of care.
Thirty days after release from jail the majority of a sample of respondents reported general satisfaction with health services while in jail and also in the community after release. Fifty-three percent of respondents with medical problems and 36 percent with mental health problems left the jail with an appointment to see a health provider in the community; 65 percent kept their first medical appointment, and 70 percent kept their first mental health care appointment. Commonly mentioned barriers to seeking health care in the community were inability to pay and lack of transportation. Factors that facilitated health care in the community included having appointments before release, being able to continue with the same health care provider for in-jail and community care, and the health education provided in jail. The proportion of respondents reporting "excellent" to "good" health at a 6-month followup increased significantly from the baseline measurement. Participation in the health care intervention in jail and in the community was statistically significantly related to a decline in self-reported health problems, both physical and mental. No relationship was found between reoffending and the level of participation in the health care interventions. There were statistically significant decreases in alcohol and hard-drug consumption at 6-month followup, but those who used tobacco prior to incarceration resumed its use in the community after release. A total of 336 individuals were recruited into the evaluation, with 200 of them being released to the community during the study period (April 5, 2000-September 16, 2001). All respondents had serious chronic medical or mental health conditions upon admission to jail. Appended questionnaire and extensive tabular data