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Prison health service directors’ views on research priorities and organizational issues in conducting research in prison: outcomes of a national deliberative roundtable

Paul Leslie Simpson (Department of Medicine, The Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
Jill Guthrie (National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)
Tony Butler (Justice Health Research Program, Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)

International Journal of Prisoner Health

ISSN: 1744-9200

Article publication date: 12 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Given that prisoners have significant health needs across most areas, the paucity of prisoner health research, and the difficulties involved in the conduct of research in this setting, there is a need to develop research priorities that align with key stakeholder groups. One such group are those responsible for health service provision in prisons – prison health service directors. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

Prison health service directors in each Australian state and territory were invited to participate in a national (deliberative) roundtable where the consensus building nominal group technique was utilized. This involved the identification of research priorities and organizational issues in conducting research with prisoners, and ranking research priorities. A thematic analysis was conducted on organizational issues.

Findings

In total, 13 participants attended the roundtable. Participants identified 28 research priorities and 12 organizational issues. Top ranked research priorities were mental health, cognitive and intellectual disability, post-release health maintenance, ageing prisoners, chronic health conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Themes identified from the organizational issues included prisoner access to research participation, health and research literacy of custodial staff, and institutional protectionism in response to research that may discover negative information about the custodial setting.

Research limitations/implications

These findings should inform future efforts to improve research infrastructures to undertake research to improve the health of people in Australian prisons, and help to align researchers’ efforts with those of a key organizational stakeholder.

Originality/value

This is the first paper to determine the research priorities and organizational issues in conducting research in prisons of prison health service directors.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia under the Australian Centre for Research Excellence in Offender Health (Grant No. 1057492). The funders had no role in the study design and data collection, analyses and interpretation, or reporting.

Citation

Simpson, P.L., Guthrie, J. and Butler, T. (2017), "Prison health service directors’ views on research priorities and organizational issues in conducting research in prison: outcomes of a national deliberative roundtable", International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 113-123. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPH-12-2016-0070

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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