Incarceration History and Depressive Symptoms Among Women Released from US Correctional Facilities: Does Timing, Duration, or Frequency Matter?

  • Qianwei ZhaoEmail author
  • Jenny L Afkinich
  • Avelardo Valdez
Original Article


Research on the impact of incarceration history on the depressive symptoms of released women has yielded conflicting findings, potentially due to the use of an oversimplified dichotomized measure of incarceration history that masks the significant heterogeneity in women’s incarceration history across different studies. This study used Add Health measures that reflect the timing, duration, and frequency of incarceration to examine its association with released women’s depressive symptoms. Chi-square and t tests were conducted to characterize released women (n = 626) in comparison to women without an incarceration history (n = 7237). Simple correlation analyses and multiple linear regression were then used to determine the association between incarceration history and released women’s depressive symptoms. Findings revealed that the timing, duration, and frequency of incarceration were not significant correlates of released women’s depressive symptoms. Instead, experiences of cumulative disadvantages were significant predictors. We concluded that the effects of cumulative disadvantages on released women’s depressive symptoms might outsize the impact of incarceration history.


Woman Depressive symptom Incarceration history Cumulative disadvantages Health disparity 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 (5). Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social WorkUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.School of Social WorkUniversity of MarylandBaltimoreUSA

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