Health risk behaviours
Health behaviours can be defined as the actions taken by individuals that affect their health and mortality (Short and Mollborn 2015). While some behaviours can improve one’s health – such as exercise and eating nutritious foods (see Physical health status) – others can have negative impacts on health, such as consuming alcohol, smoking cigarettes and using illicit drugs.
People who come in contact with the criminal justice system are more likely than the general population to engage in behaviours that are harmful to their health (AIHW 2019; Doyle et al. 2015; Porter 2014).
This section reports on alcohol consumption, smoking and vaping, illicit drug use, risky sexual behaviours – and other risky behaviours engaged in while in prison, such as tattooing and body piercing, and needle sharing.
AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) (2019) The health of Australia’s prisoners 2018, AIHW website, accessed 08 June 2023, doi:10.25816/5ec5c381ed17a.
Doyle M, Butler T, Shakeshaft A. et al. (2015) ‘Alcohol and other drug use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men entering prison in New South Wales’, Health and Justice 3(15), doi:10.1186/s40352-015-0027-1.
Porter L (2014) ‘Incarceration and post-release health behavior’, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 55(2):234–249, doi:10.1177/0022146514531438.
Short, S. E., and Mollborn, S. (2015). Social Determinants and Health Behaviors: Conceptual Frames and Empirical Advances. Current opinion in psychology, 5, 78–84. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.05.002