Sexual and Reproductive Health Outcomes among Incarcerated Women in Canada: A Scoping Review Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Background Women are the fastest growing population in Canadian prisons. Incarceration can limit access to essential health services, increase health risks and disrupt treatment and supports. Despite legal requirements to provide care at professionally accepted standards, evidence suggests imprisonment undermines sexual and reproductive health. This scoping review asks, “What is known about the sexual and reproductive health of people incarcerated in prisons for women in Canada?” Methods We use the Joanna Briggs Institute methodology for systematic scoping reviews. Databases searched include MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Gender Studies Abstracts, Google Scholar and Proquest Dissertations and grey literature. The search yielded 1424 titles and abstracts of which 15 met the criteria for inclusion. Results Conducted from 1994–2020, in provincial facilities in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec as well as federal prisons, the 15 studies included qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods. The most common outcomes of interest were related to HIV. Other outcomes studied included Papanicolaou (Pap) and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, contraception, pregnancy, birth/neonatal outcomes, and sexual assault. Conclusion Incarceration results in lack of access to basic services including contraception and prenatal care. Legal obligations to provide sexual and reproductive health services at professionally acceptable standards appear unmet. Incarceration impedes rights of incarcerated people to sexual and reproductive health.


  • Paynter, Martha
  • Heggie, Clare
  • McKibbon, Shelley
  • Martin-Misener, Ruth
  • Iftene, Adelina
  • Murphy, Gail Tomblin

publication date

  • March 2022