Exploring forensic environments: how do environmental factors influence individual outcomes for residents and staff? A systematic review

Karine Greenacre (Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Norwich, UK)
Emma Palmer (College of Medicine Biological Sciences and Psychology, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Publication date: 13 August 2018



Increasing attention is focusing on the role of environments in the rehabilitation of offenders, with a range of reported outcomes in the literature. The purpose of this paper is to explore forensic environments and the outcomes and changes that result, in order to assess the current knowledge in this area and to inform current and future practice.


Using a systematic review approach with an extensive literature search and robust application of appraisal methods, nine studies were identified. The studies included one mixed method study (n=1), qualitative methods (n=4) that utilised thematic analysis, interpretative phenomenological analysis and Foucauldian discourse analysis and quantitative methods (n=4) that utilised the responses to psychometric measures including the EssenCES and correctional institution environment scale (CIES) to assess the quality and outcomes associated with environments in forensic settings.


Three superordinate themes were identified: factors required for successful environments, factors that influence successful environments and factors affected by successful environments.

Research limitations/implications

Further research would be beneficial around motivation, as it appears to influence the success of environments and be a potential outcome of environments. Further research might usefully explore the ideal time in services, for optimal outcomes in order to advise those currently commissioning services of this nature.


In addition to outcomes, this review found factors required for forensic environments that are consistent with previous literature within the field, and factors that might influence how successful environments can be.



Greenacre, K. and Palmer, E. (2018), "Exploring forensic environments: how do environmental factors influence individual outcomes for residents and staff? A systematic review", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 203-217. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHSI-06-2018-0020

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