Evaluation of the Health Link Program [New York City]: The Community Reintegration Model to Reduce Substance Abuse Among Jail Inmates, 1997-2002 (ICPSR 3978)

Version Date: Aug 20, 2004 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
John Burghardt, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.; Karen Needels, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.


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This evaluation study, funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was designed to provide a rigorous assessment of the effects of making Health Link's community-based services available to former inmates of New York City's jail system at Rikers Island. The goal of the Health Link Project was to promote healthy reintegration of persons leaving Rikers into their communities by (1) providing direct services to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated clients, (2) assisting community organizations that served this population, (3) establishing linkages between organizations, and (4) strengthening linkages between them and public agencies. The signature component of Health Link was case management in the community. Meeting with clients after their release from jail, caseworkers provided a support structure, made referrals to services, offered crisis intervention and counseling, and served as advocates for clients. Only adult females and adolescent males were included in the study. Eligible inmates who volunteered for the evaluation study were assigned to one of two groups: the Jail-and-Community Services group (JC group) or the Jail Services Only group (J group). JC group members were eligible for Health Link's intensive discharge planning and community case management services, while J group members were eligible for less intensive discharge planning services and ineligible for Health Link's community case management services. Evaluation subjects initially completed an intake questionnaire, which collected information on age, race, Hispanic origin, ethnicity, place and type of residence, family relations, criminal background, employment and education, substance abuse, health and medical history, sexual at-risk behavior and reproductive health, and history of trauma. Follow-up interviews were conducted, on average, about 15 months after release from jail, a sufficient time to observe the 12-month period for which clients were eligible for community-based services. Topics covered in the follow-up 12 Month Questionnaire included involvement in the criminal justice system, criminal activity, substance abuse, participation in substance abuse treatment programs, education and employment outcomes, health status, access to and utilization of health care services, sexual activity and HIV risk, housing, and involvement with family and community. Subjects who were not incarcerated at the time of their follow-up interview were asked to voluntarily provide hair samples, which were tested for metabolites of cocaine, opiates, PCP, methamphetamine, and marijuana.

Burghardt, John, and Needels, Karen. Evaluation of the Health Link Program [New York City]:  The Community Reintegration Model to Reduce Substance Abuse Among Jail Inmates, 1997-2002. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2004-08-20. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03978.v1

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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (31735)

The data files are restricted from general dissemination for reasons of confidentiality. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete an Agreement for the Use of Confidential Data, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research. Apply for access to these data through the ICPSR restricted data contract portal, which can be accessed via the study home page.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
1997 -- 2002
1997 -- 2002

The data files are comma-delimited with one record per case, and variable names are provided in the first record of each data file. Hence, the number of records in each file is one more than the number of cases.

Health Link staff recruited for the evaluation inmates who showed interest and likely commitment to receiving case management services, who expected to return to the community within a year because their sentence in Rikers was less than one year and they did not expect to be transferred to the New York State prison system, and who were willing and able to receive services in the South Bronx or Harlem in New York City. Subjects were randomly assigned to either the JC group or to the J group. Slightly more than 350 women and 350 adolescent males were selected for each group, for a total sample of 1,416.

Adult female and adolescent males incarcerated in the New York City jail system at Rikers Island between July 1997 and May 2000.

personal interviews and drug test results

clinical data, survey data

Intake survey: 99 percent. Twelve month survey: 74 percent. Eighty percent of the unincarcerated follow-up respondents provided a hair sample. Incarcerated follow-up respondents were not asked to provide a hair sample.


2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • Burghardt, John, and Karen Needels. Evaluation of the Health Link Program [New York City]: The Community Reintegration Model to Reduce Substance Abuse Among Jail Inmates, 1997-2002. ICPSR03978-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2004. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03978.v1


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This study is maintained and distributed by the Health and Medical Care Archive (HMCA). HMCA is the official data archive of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.