Megan R Hebert

Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, United States

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Publications (13)22.7 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated the prevalence of and associations among sexual assault by life stage (childhood, adolescence, or adulthood) and perpetrator (family, stranger, friend, or partner) via a survey of a statewide sample of incarcerated women (N = 484). Participants were 18 to 56 years old, and the majority were White (56%). Results demonstrate higher rates of sexual assault in childhood (35%) and adulthood (22%) as compared with adolescence (14%). Logistic regression analyses revealed significant associations between childhood sexual assault by family and adulthood sexual assault by friend, stranger, and partner; adolescent sexual assault was not significantly associated with sexual assault in childhood or adulthood. These findings suggest that the lifetime sexual victimization pattern of incarcerated women differs from that seen in the general population.
    Violence Against Women 06/2008; 14(5):528-41. · 1.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Female jail populations are comprised of women at high-risk for an array of psychological and physical health problems. Jails offer an opportune site to deliver clinical health interventions to women who often quickly cycle back into the community. In contrast with prison population studies, many investigators have encountered recruitment problems when attempting to engage the jailed population in clinical research. This study addressed the feasibility of recruiting detained women for eligibility for clinical research. Commitments to the Women's Facility at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections were chronicled for 40 months, from February 2004 to June 2007. Research staff, working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, attempted to screen all detained women for a randomized clinical trial. During the 40-month study period, 4,131 individual women had 8,010 commitments to the facility. Staff was able to gain access to nearly 50% of women. Of the inaccessible women, 65% were released in less than 24 hours. In total, 88% of accessed women agreed to be screened for study participation. No significant differences were observed by race/ethnicity or age between women who were screened and those who were not. Clinical research with the female jail population is feasible. The jail setting requires researchers to plan for short-commitment lengths and high rates of recidivism to optimize screening and recruitment in this population.
    Women & Health 02/2008; 47(3):79-93. · 1.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Many individuals who inject drugs do not access existing needle and syringe exchange programs. The ability to obtain clean needles from needle exchanges is limited by operational difficulties, the hours of operation, the location of the programs, and a lack of transportation. Providing multiple points of access to clean needles, including mobile exchange sites, may be necessary to prevent the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus and other blood-borne viruses. A novel backpack needle exchange outreach model was implemented in Providence, Rhode Island. Backpack exchange participants completed surveys similar to those done by clients of Providence's storefront needle exchange. Backpack exchangers were significantly more likely to be Hispanic and inject more frequently than those who utilized the fixed site. Backpack exchange is a feasible method for providing needle exchange services and referrals to hard-to-reach injectors.
    Journal of Addictive Diseases 02/2008; 27(3):7-12. · 1.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study sought to identify correlates of acceptance of a hypothetical Neisseria gonorrhea (GC) vaccine in a high-risk sample of incarcerated women. The goal of this study was to inform efforts to promote acceptance of STI vaccines in development. This study consisted of a cross-sectional survey using a structured questionnaire. The majority (79%) of incarcerated women surveyed would accept GC vaccine. In multivariate analyses that controlled for demographics, significant health belief model psychosocial correlates of higher acceptance were perceived severity of infection (OR = 3.33) and vulnerability to infection (OR = 2.85). Fear of vaccination was significantly correlated with lower acceptance (OR = 0.42). Incarcerated women's willingness to accept a hypothetical GC vaccine is explained by components of the health belief model and a component of the theory of reasoned action.
    Sex Transm Dis 11/2007; 34(10):778-82. · 2.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An increasing number of women are involved in the criminal justice system. Women in corrections are often of low socioeconomic status, medically underserved and exposed to a variety of traumatic events. Programs and services provided in correctional settings should be informed by the unique profiles and needs of these women. This study sought to identify distinct sub-groups (classes) of incarcerated women based on differences in their qualitative (types of trauma) and quantitative (number of) trauma experiences. Demographics, psychosocial and behavioral characteristics were measured in 149 women entering jail, who reported recent hazardous drinking and HIV sexual risk behavior. Two classes based on trauma exposure of women were identified through latent class analysis. The classes did not differ with respect to qualitative differences in trauma exposure (both classes reported all forms of trauma), but did differ with respect to quantitative differences (Class 2 reported more exposure to trauma in all categories than Class 1). The classes also differed significantly on current psychological functioning, alcohol treatment, problems, and consequences, drug histories, sexual risk, medical conditions, and social group characteristics. In all areas, members of Class 2 were significantly more likely to report higher levels of measured variables. Nearly all women in our sample reported levels of trauma exposure, suggesting a need for intervention and attention. Through identifying these separate classes, limited resources for trauma survivors in the correctional setting could be most appropriately allocated.
    Journal of Trauma & Dissociation 02/2007; 8(2):27-46. · 1.72 Impact Factor
  • Kelly A McGarry, Megan R Hebert
    Medicine and health, Rhode Island 07/2006; 89(6):198-201.
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    ABSTRACT: We examined whether incarcerated women would substantially increase birth control initiation if contraceptive services were available within the prison compared with after their release back into the community. During phase 1 of the study, a nurse educator met with women at the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institute and offered them referrals for contraceptive services at a community health clinic after their release. During phase 2, contraceptive services were offered to women during their incarceration. The majority of the participants (77.5%) reported a desire to initiate use of birth control methods. Within 4 weeks of their release, 4.4% of phase 1 participants initiated use of a contraceptive method, compared with 39.1% of phase 2 participants (odds ratio [OR]=14.6; 95% confidence interval [CI]=5.5, 38.8). Provision of contraceptive services to women during their incarceration is feasible and greatly increases birth control initiation compared to providing services only in the community.
    American Journal of Public Health 06/2006; 96(5):840-5. · 3.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Women in correctional institutions have substantial reproductive health problems, yet they are underserved in receipt of reproductive health care. We assessed the level of risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and the reproductive health needs of 484 incarcerated women in Rhode Island to plan an intervention for women returning to the community. We used a 45-minute survey to assess medical histories, pregnancy and birth control use histories, current pregnancy intentions, substance use during the past 3 months, histories of childhood sexual abuse, and health attitudes and behaviors. Participants had extremely high risks for STDs and pregnancy, which was characterized by inconsistent birth control (66.5%) and condom use (80.4%), multiple partners (38%), and a high prevalence of unplanned pregnancies (83.6%) and STDs (49%). Only 15.4% said it was not likely that they would have sexual relations with a man within 6 months after release. Reproductive health services must be offered to incarcerated women. Such interventions will benefit the women, the criminal justice systems, and the communities to which the women will return.
    American Journal of Public Health 06/2006; 96(5):834-9. · 3.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Unplanned pregnancies are an important and costly public health problem. Women entering jail are at particularly high risk for unplanned pregnancies when they leave jail, given the high rates of poverty, substance abuse and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in this population, all of which are associated with unplanned pregnancies. Attitudes toward pregnancy vary substantially, influencing openness of incarcerated women to starting a birth control method. This study was conducted as part of a Title X service evaluation and examined varying attitudes towards pregnancy and associated plans to use contraceptives. The current study included 223 women entering jail who were, under 36 years of age, fertile, sexually active with men, and not planning to become pregnant in the near future. Nearly half of the women had negative pregnancy attitudes (PAs), indicating that they did not want to become pregnant, while 41.3% endorsed ambivalent PAs. Compared to those with ambivalent PAs, those with Negative PAs were more likely to report a previous unplanned pregnancy (90.6% vs. 75.4%), a previous pregnancy termination (40.0% vs. 22.8%), and recent consistent use of contraceptives (37.0% vs. 21.7%). Women with negative PAs were significantly more likely to want to start or to continue a birth control method compared to those with ambivalent PAs (66% vs. 47%). Tailoring services to women's specific pregnancy attitudes during periods of incarceration may aid in preventing unplanned pregnancies in populations of high-risk women.
    Women & Health 02/2006; 43(2):111-30. · 1.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The current study was designed to examine associations between gender-based violence and arrests due to sex trade or drug-related charges among a statewide sample of incarcerated women in Rhode Island. Incarcerated women were asked to participate in brief pre- and posttest surveys of their experiences of violence, sexual risk and substance use behaviors, as part of a study on the effectiveness of a family planning program in a state correctional facility; data from pretest surveys (N=447) were used for current analyses. Logistic regression analyses adjusted for demographics were used to assess significant associations between gender-based violence variables (i.e., adolescent intimate partner violence (IPV), adult IPV, childhood sexual assault (SA), adolescent SA, and adult SA) and arrests due to sex trade or drug-related charges. Significant relationships were observed between arrests for sex trade and adult SA (OR=2.1, 95%CI=1.2-3.6), adolescent IPV (OR=2.5, 95%CI=1.5-4.1), and adult IPV (OR=1.7, 95%CI=1.1-2.6); no significant associations were observed for drug-related charges. Findings from the current study demonstrate that experiences of gender-based violence are associated with arrests for sex trade but not drug-related charges. Interventions for incarcerated women are needed to consider and address history of victimization from gender-based violence and its relation to women's historic and future sex trade involvement.
    International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 01/2006; 29(3):204-11. · 1.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To identify the educational factors associated with HIV risk behaviors among incarcerated women. We evaluated a cohort of female detainees at The Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institute between July and September 2004. Among the 423 women who participated in the study, 55% did not have a high school diploma, 29% had < or = 8th grade reading capacity, 32% had a learning disability, 37% had problem drinking, and 61% (257/423) reported HIV risk behavior. In multiple logistic regression, participants who had completed high school had the lowest likelihood of HIV risk behavior (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0.35, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.12-1.00). There was no association between participants? literacy level and HIV risk behavior (adjusted OR 2.02, 95% CI 0.83-4.92). Correctional education programs to reduce HIV risk behavior should focus on those with low educational attainment irrespective of literacy skills.
    Journal of Women s Health 11/2005; 14(9):852-9. · 1.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Few studies of incarcerated women have examined potential associations between risky sexual behavior and relationship context factors; thus, little is known about the correlates of intentions to use condoms with main and casual partners in this underserved population. A sample of 221 women incarcerated in a Rhode Island Department of Corrections facility in 2002-2003 were interviewed. Multiple linear regression analysis was performed to assess associations between selected demographic, psychosocial and behavioral variables and participants' reported intentions to use condoms with main and casual sexual partners in the first six months after their release. Condom use at last sex with a main partner, sexually transmitted disease (STD) history, no strong desire to currently be pregnant, belief that others influence one's health and perceived STD risk were positively associated with women's intention to use condoms with main partners. Pregnancy history was negatively associated with intention to use condoms with a main partner. Condom use at last sex with a casual partner was positively associated with intention to use condoms with casual partners, whereas binge drinking and believing in the role of chance in determining one's health were negatively associated with intention to use condoms with casual partners. Whether incarcerated women define a partner as main or casual may influence their decisions about the need to protect themselves by using condoms. Programs that focus on the importance of condom use with all partners could greatly benefit incarcerated women and the communities to which they return.
    Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 04/2005; 37(1):32-8. · 1.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We sought to estimate the association of stressful life events on menstrual function in incarcerated women. Project CONNECT is a study of reproductive health needs of incarcerated women conducted between June 2002 and December 2003. This analysis examines menstrual function in 446 women from this cohort who were under the age of 45. Regularity was defined as menses between 26 and 35 days long. Amenorrhea was defined as > or =90 days since last menstruation. Measures included stressful experiences and deprivation (e.g., physical or sexual abuse, stressful living conditions, exchanging sex for drugs or money, or having had an incarcerated parent). Menstrual dysfunction was common in this population. Nine percent reported amenorrhea, and 33% reported menstrual irregularity. A number of stressors were associated with menstrual irregularity, including having a parent with history of alcohol or drug problems (relative risk [RR] = 1.34; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.00-1.80), childhood physical or sexual abuse (RR = 1.48; 95% CI, 1.03-2.13), or any sexual abuse (RR = 1.49; 95% CI, 1.03-2.14) after adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, smoking status, and recent drug use. These effects were attenuated somewhat when excluding women who had reported any hormonal contraceptive use in the past 3 months. Incarcerated women have high rates of amenorrhea and menstrual irregularity and the prevalence may be associated with certain stresses. Further research on the causes and consequences of menstrual dysfunction in this underserved population is needed.
    Women s Health Issues 17(4):202-9. · 1.61 Impact Factor