Simon Forsyth

University of Queensland

Project Status: Completed 2018
Grant Type: Project Grant

Why was funding this research important?
Prisoners are at a higher risk of having asthma and risk factors associated with asthma-related mortality. However, there is no research examining the incidence or the risk factors for asthma-related mortality in ex-prisoners. Asthma may be a significant contributor to preventable morbidity and mortality in ex-prisoners. 

What did the researchers do? 
The study investigated asthma and other risk factors for all-cause mortality, as well as drug, cardiovascular, and respiratory disease related mortality for adults released from prison in Queensland from 1994 to 2007. Deaths during follow-up were identified using data-linkage to national mortality data. Prisoner health records were analysed for risk factors potentially associated with mortality. Asthma-related mortality was compared to age, sex and race matched general population of Queensland. 

“Our main study had very specific questions that we were researching. We analysed specific factors among the ex-prisoner population, and only in passing did we note the potentially strong outcomes related with asthma. Like most academic research, our resources are scant, so without funding from Asthma Australia, this research would not have been completed, the associations would not have been measured.” 

-Simon Forsyth 

What was the outcome?
The research found ex-prisoners were significantly more likely to have an asthma-related death than their age and sex matched general population counterparts. Ex-prisoners who had identified as having asthma at any stage had an increased risk of death from cardio-vascular disease, and drug-related mortality, independent of age, sex and race. 

A person who has been part of the prisoner population are much more likely to have been diagnosed with asthma, and are at an even greater risk of asthma related death after release from prison. Policy makers should take advantage of the nature of prisons which allow for highly targeted asthma interventions, and changing prison release policies, so prisoners identified with asthma are provided with or directed to potentially life-saving interventions prior to release. 

“We hope that this research will inspire other researchers to investigate relationships of asthma to other causes of death, measure the under-reporting of asthma-related mortality, and form the basis for policy change on life-saving information and programs to be made available to prisoners with asthma on release from prison.” 

-Simon Forsyth 

Reference: Simon Forsyth, Rosa Alati & Stuart A. Kinner (2022) Asthma-related mortality after release from prison: a retrospective data linkage study, Journal of Asthma, DOI: 10.1080/02770903.2022.2039936