A Systematic Review of Interventions to Improve Health Factors or Behaviors of the Cardiovascular Health of Prisoners During Incarceration

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Abstract

Background:

Prisoners are disproportionately affected by cardiovascular disease and its risk factors. However, primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in correctional settings has been widely neglected, and there is little information on interventions to improve the cardiovascular health of prisoners while incarcerated.

Objective:

The aim of this study was to systematically review published literature to identify interventions to improve the health factors or behaviors of the cardiovascular health of prisoners during incarceration.

Methods:

Selected databases were searched using terms related to prisoners and cardiovascular disease. Studies were included if they had prisoners as participants and measured outcomes of cardiovascular health. Narrative synthesis was used to organize the evidence from the studies.

Results:

Twelve articles detailing 11 studies were identified. Most of the studies involved only men. Interventions were classified into 4 types: structured physical activity, nutrition, mixed with physical activity and educational sessions, and smoking cessation. Most studies measured short-term outcomes relating to cardiovascular health such as changes in blood pressure and weight. Only 4 studies were of high quality. Structured physical activity interventions, nutrition interventions, and smoking cessation interventions delivered in a group setting had significant effects on at least 1 measured outcome. The effect of mixed interventions could not be determined.

Conclusions:

Structured physical activity interventions, nutrition interventions, and smoking cessation interventions delivered in a group setting can improve health factors or behaviors of the cardiovascular health of prisoners during incarceration. More high-quality research is needed to increase the evidence base on the effectiveness of these interventions in the correctional setting.

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