LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 1, 2010) − A professor at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing has been awarded $1.9 million by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Nursing Research to implement a cardiovascular risk reduction intervention in four Kentucky Department of Corrections state-run prisons.
"Coronary heart disease is the number one killer of prison inmates so this is a major opportunity to improve the health of prisoners, have a lasting impact on their health, and substantially reduce costs to prisons,” said Debra Moser, principal investigator of the study and director of the Center for Biobehavioral Research in Self-Management of Cardiopulmonary Diseases at UK.
The intervention consists of a 12-week program of health education with behavior change strategy sessions delivered by certified health educators and an aerobic exercise program led by exercise specialists. Short- and long-term effects will be measured immediately after the 12-week intervention and three months later. At least 400 inmates will be involved from four state prisons. The program will focus on teaching participants self-responsibility for managing their cardiovascular health and provide knowledge and skills for cardiovascular risk reduction in prison once released from prison.
"This novel research is the largest medical study ever conducted in the Kentucky Department of Corrections," said Dr. Scott A. Haas, medical director for the Kentucky Department of Corrections. "It will shed light on the cardiovascular risk factors that affect inmate health and the benefits of modifying those risk factors. Once again, the collaboration between the Department of Corrections and the University of Kentucky will produce cost-efficiency to the Commonwealth by discovering tangible clinical benefits to inmate health care."
Prison inmates have high rates of cardiovascular disease risk factors. In addition, prison inmates are disproportionately represented by minorities among whom there are higher rates of cardiovascular disease and its associated risk factors. Once released, most inmates are uninsured or are insured by Medicaid or Medicare. As prison inmates are the only group in the U.S. for which medical care is federally mandated, substantial state and federal cost savings could be realized if inmates’ cardiovascular risk factors could be better controlled, Moser said. Furthermore, if inmates are trained about heart disease risk factors and how to control them, then once they are released from prison and return to their families and communities, they may be able to provide their knowledge and skills to these families and communities.
The study is currently in progress and will run through January 2012. The participating correctional institutions are Little Sandy Correctional Center, Luther Luckett Correction Complex, Kentucky State Reformatory, and Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex.