Objective. We examined the impact of arrest and incarceration on primary care patients in the Bronx, New York.
Methods. Patients at three clinics were asked eight questions concerning current and past involvement in criminal proceedings, arrest, and incarceration.
Results. One hundred eighteen patients were surveyed. Eleven (9%) patients were currently involved in criminal proceedings. Twenty-one (18%) currently had a family member in jail or prison. Twenty-nine (25%) reported ever being arrested; 65 (55%) reported that they or a family member had been arrested. Twenty-one (18%) had been incarcerated; 60 (51%) reported they or a family member had spent time in jail or prison. For most variables, rates were higher for men and the adults accompanying children at pediatric visits. Clinicians reported positive experiences discussing incarceration.
Conclusions. Involvement with the criminal justice system was common among our patients. Discussion of incarceration did not appear to have a negative impact on the clinical relationship.