Psychosocial determinants of health among incarcerated black women: A systematic literature review

Carlos Mahaffey, Danelle Stevens-Watkins, Joi Sheree’ Knighton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Black women are disproportionately incarcerated and experience worse health outcomes compared with White and Hispanic women. This systematic literature review aims to identify the major psychosocial determinants of health and service utilization among incarcerated Black women. The ecological model for health behavior was used to frame the literature presented and explain how individual, interpersonal, and societal factors affect health. Nineteen articles met inclusion criteria for this review. Psychosocial factors were identified at each level, including mental health problems (individual); sexual behavior (interpersonal); and dysfunctional/negative relationships (community). The factors interact in a dynamic relationship that influences the health and service utilization of Black women. Future research should examine within-group differences to highlight the unique needs and culture within the Black community in the context of psychosocial determinants. This synthesis of relevant studies can serve to inform change in correctional policies, practices, and help reduce health disparities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-70
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Meharry Medical College.


  • African Americans
  • Determinants of health
  • Female
  • Health disparities
  • Prison
  • Public health
  • Vulnerable populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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