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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Rutgers: Study Examines Effectiveness of Prison Cancer Prevention Programs for Smokers

Rutgers School of Public Health assistant professor, Dr. Pamela Valera, recently found that incarcerated men who smoke are not being reached by cancer prevention programs.

The new multimethod study examines tobacco, cancer health, and psychosocial factors related to health behaviors.

There are approximately 2,162,400 individuals incarcerated in the United States. Of those, close to 1.4 million are men. Data shows between 50 percent and 83 percent of incarcerated individuals are cigarette smokers versus only 14 percent in the U.S. adult population.

Dr. Valera developed the Cancer Risk in Incarcerated Men’s (CRIIM) Study, enrolling 236 inmates between the ages of 19 and 85, from three prisons to examine the effectiveness of current cancer prevention programs. Data was retrieved through a cross-sectional CRIIM questionnaire that describes participants’ demographic characteristics, including incarceration experience, prison conditions, and treatment, tobacco and cancer health, psychosocial factors, health behaviors, and physical and mental health outcomes.

The data revealed 69.1 percent of men had not undergone a cancer screening. Smokers reported cancer screening rates of 33.1 percent, and ex-smokers reported rates of 26.8 percent. The only significant predictor of having received a cancer screening was age.

“Cigarette smoking among incarcerated people is a significant public health problem,” said Dr. Valera. “The findings of this study confirm the underlying need for increased awareness of cancer screening and using a life-course approach to promote cancer prevention activities.”

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