Open Access Research

Perceptions of neighborhood social environment and drug dependence among incarcerated women and men: a cross-sectional analysis

Jessica D Rogers1, Megha Ramaswamy1*, Chin-I Cheng2, Kimber Richter1 and Patricia J Kelly3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas School of Medicine, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, Kansas City, KS, 66160, USA

2 Department of Mathematics, Central Michigan University, Pearce Hall 214, Mount Pleasant, MI, 48859, USA

3 School of Nursing, University of Missouri-Kansas City, 2464 Charlotte Street, Kansas City, MO, 64108, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2012, 7:39  doi:10.1186/1747-597X-7-39

Published: 10 September 2012



Perception of neighborhood social environment can influence an individual’s susceptibility to drug dependence. However, this has never been examined with a jailed sample, where frequent transitions between local jails and disadvantaged neighborhoods are common. Understanding these associations could aid in the design of targeted programs to decrease drug dependence and recidivism among the incarcerated.


For this study, 596 women and men from three Kansas City jails were surveyed over the course of six months in 2010. Drug dependence was assessed with DSM-IV criteria. Independent variables included fear of one’s neighborhood, perceived level of neighborhood violence, and social capital. All data were self-reported and were analyzed using logistic regression.


Controlling for gender and age, fear of neighborhood violence was associated with increased odds of having drug dependence (OR = 1.27, CI 1.02, 1.58) and a higher level of social capital prior to incarceration was associated with lower odds of drug dependence (OR = 0.65, CI 0.44, 0.96). Mental health problem diagnosis and past year intimate partner violence were significant mediating factors. Gender and race/ethnicity were significant moderating factors between neighborhood disadvantage and drug dependence.


Our study suggests that drug dependence programs for women and men who cycle between jails and communities require both individual- and community-level interventions. To be most effective, programs at the community-level should focus on helping specific groups navigate their communities, as well as address individual health needs associated with drug dependence.

Neighborhood; Drug dependence; Incarceration