Family Member Incarceration and Mental Health: Results from a Nationally Representative Survey
Research increasingly documents the repercussions of family member incarceration for health, but little is known about the relative health consequences of different types of family member incarceration (including parent, sibling, child, and romantic partner/co-parent incarceration) or demographic variation in the health consequences of family member incarceration. I used data from the Family History of Incarceration Survey (FamHIS), a nationally representative cross-sectional survey of U.S. adults (N = 2808), to estimate the association between family member incarceration history and mental health, net of covariates. Adjusted logistic regression models suggest three conclusions. First, immediate family member incarceration is positively associated with fair or poor mental health. Second, parent and sibling incarceration—but not child or romantic partner/co-parent incarceration—is positively associated with fair or poor mental health, but the different types of family member incarceration are not statistically different from one another. Third, the association between family member incarceration and fair or poor mental health is similar across race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and incarceration history. These findings highlight that any family member incarceration—and not necessarily the type of family member incarceration—has repercussions for mental health, and that these associations are not contingent on demographic characteristics. Given the concentration of family member incarceration among people of color and the poor, this adverse experience may exacerbate population health inequalities.
Turney, Kristin. 2021. “Family Member Incarceration and Mental Health: Results from a Nationally Representative Survey.” SSM-Mental Health 1:100002.