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Strong Social Networks Are Healthy—Except When They Are Not  

Author:  Margaret Moreland.

Source: Volume 21, Number 03, March/April 2020 , pp.49-51(3)

Correctional Health Care Report

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This article summarizes the work of a team of U.S. researchers on the positive and negative aspects of “social networks” on the health of prison inmates. The original article, “Social Networks and Health in a Prison Unit” was published in Journal of Health and Social Behavior. The authors— Dana L. Haynie, Corey Whichard, Derek A. Kreager, David R. Schaefer, and Sara Wakefield—speculate that the negative health consequences of incarceration may vary by prison subgroup and that there may be a relationship between poor health and social deprivations resulting from incarceration, such as alienation, isolation, and extreme stress. An alternative view is that the close and constrained prison environment creates the potential for interpersonal conflict, stress, and peer influence toward poor health behaviors—as the authors note, “inmates most embedded in peer networks may have worse health behaviors than those who ‘keep their heads down’ and avoid peer ties.” Their research study seeks to examine and resolve these conflicting points of view.

Keywords: Prison Social Networks; Link Between Social Bonds and Health in Prisoners

Affiliations:  1: Pace University Law School.

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