People who are socially disadvantaged or on low incomes

This group has historically been identified as those on a low income and/or receiving some form of government income assistance, but now extends to include people experiencing other forms of disadvantage including refugees, homeless people, some people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and people in institutions or correctional facilities (COAG 2015). Poorer oral health results from infrequent dental care. Barriers include cost, appropriateness of service delivery and lower levels of health literacy, including oral health (COAG 2015).

The health of Australia’s prisoners 2018

People in contact with the criminal justice system often come from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds (AIHW 2019).

People in prison have higher rates of tobacco smoking and high-risk alcohol consumption than the general population (AIHW 2015) which are behaviours that are known to increase the risk of oral disease (AIHW 2020).

The health of Australia's prisoners 2018 presents the results of the 5th National Prisoner Health Data Collection (NPHDC) in Australia. The NPHDC is the main source of national data about the health of people in prison in Australia. Data for the NPHDC were collected in 2-week periods in all states and territories, except New South Wales.

During the 2-week NPHDC data collection period, one-quarter (25%) of prison dischargees said they had been diagnosed with a dental condition at some stage in their lives.

Similar to general practice in the community, prison clinics provide primary health care to people in custody. A visit to the prison clinic may be initiated by the patient (person in custody) or by clinic staff. During the 2-week NPHDC data collection period just over one-quarter (28%) of clinic visits were initiated by the patient. Patients were more likely to initiate clinic visits for dental conditions (70%) whilst clinicians were more likely to initiate clinic visits for pathology (83%).

References

AIHW 2015. The health of Australia’s prisoners 2015. Cat. no. PHE 207. Canberra: AIHW.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019. The health of Australia’s prisoners 2018. Cat. no. PHE 246. Canberra: AIHW. doi:10.25816/5ec5c381ed17a

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020. National Oral Health Plan 2015–2024: performance monitoring report. Cat. no. DEN 232. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 16 February 2021.