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Peers in Prison Settings


Contact Dr James Woodall for information

0113 812 4436 j.woodall@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Welcome to Peers in Prison Settings (PIPS)

A systematic review of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of peer-based interventions to maintain and improve offender health in prison settings.

The prison population has high levels of poor health and more needs to be known about effective interventions in this vulnerable population. Research indicates that peer-based approaches can be a mechanism for supporting healthcare delivery and health improvement in prison settings, but prior to this study, the evidence had not been systematically reviewed. The Peers in Prison Settings study addressed this research gap and provided information to support decision making in the NHS by undertaking a synthesis of evidence on peer-based interventions.

The study received approval from the National Offender Management Service National Research Committee.

The study (2012-13) was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research (NIHR HS&DR) programme Project Number 10/2002/13: http://www.netscc.ac.uk/hsdr/.

Plus Icon About the Study

The aims of the project were to conduct an evidence synthesis on peer-based interventions in prison settings, including young offender institutions (YOIs), and to provide research based information on types of intervention, outcomes, costs and benefits to aid decision making within the prison health service.

The main research question was: What is the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of peer-based interventions to maintain and improve health in prisons and young offender institutions? 

The study objectives were to:

  • Identify the effects of peer-based interventions on prisoner or staff health and the determinants of their health.
  • Review and synthesise evidence for the cost and cost effectiveness of peer-based interventions in prison settings.
  • Examine the positive and negative impacts of delivering peer-based interventions on health services within prison settings.
  • Compare the effects of peer-based approaches to professionally led approaches.
  • Produce a framework that identifies types of intervention, when provided (with reference to offender healthcare pathways), and outcomes.

For further information, please feel free to contact the research team via James Woodall, Project Administrator J.Woodall@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Plus Icon Funding
The study (2012-13) was being funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research (NIHR HS&DR) programme Project Number 10/2002/13: http://www.netscc.ac.uk/hsdr/  

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR HS&DR programme or the Department of Health.
Plus Icon About the Peers in Prison Settings Expert Symposium

An Expert Symposium was held in May 2012 to gather expert opinion on whether and how peer-based approaches work within prisons and YOIs in England and Wales. The evidence heard at the symposium was able to supplement the data obtained from the systematic review of research studies and provide vital contextual information on the application of peer-based approaches within prison environments. Experts were be drawn from different fields including prison health services, National Offender Management Service, academic research and third sector organisations.

Summary record of the conference proceeding

Plus Icon Involving Service Users

All health service research needs to consider the views of patients and the public. In this study we consulted with prisoners (including those already acting in peer-support roles) about the findings from the systematic review.  A series of listening exercises were held with prisoners at existing health forums in prisons in West Yorkshire as well as the Jigsaw Visitors’ Centre at HMP Leeds.

It is vitally important to get prisoners’ views as the desk-based research did not cover ‘real life’ issues in much detail.  Speaking to existing prisoners helped us to produce the final report with practical information that can be used in developing health services in prisons.

Plus Icon Partners

The Research Team

  • Professor Jane South (Principal Investigator), Institute for Health & Wellbeing, Leeds Beckett University
  • Dr Anne-Marie Bagnall, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Health & Wellbeing, Leeds Beckett University (lead for effectiveness systematic review)
  • Dr Claire Hulme, Academic Unit of Health Economics, University of Leeds (lead for cost-effectiveness systematic review)
  • Dr James Woodall, Senior Lecturer, Leeds Beckett University (lead for expert symposium)
  • Karina Kinsella, Institute for Health & Wellbeing, Leeds Beckett University
  • Dr Gary Raine, Institute for Health & Wellbeing, Leeds Beckett University
  • Ben Mitchell, Policy Research Institute, Leeds Beckett University (Information Officer)

Steering Group

  • Professor Rachael Dixey, Institute for Health & Wellbeing, Leeds Beckett University
  • Bill Penson, Leeds Beckett University 
  • Dr Nick de Viggiani, University of West of England
  • Dr Nat Wright, Clinical Director for Vulnerable Groups, NHS Leeds
  • Dr Linda Harris, Chief Executive, Spectrum Community Health (providing clinical services in HMP Wakefield & HMP New Hall)
  • Lee Stephenson, Jigsaw family centre, HMP Leeds
  • Katherine Doran, Head of Health Care, HMP Bristol
  • Caroline Thompson, previously Head of Learning and Skills, HMP/YOI Eastwood Park  

Advisory Group

  • Prof Mike Kelly, Director, Public Health Excellence Centre, NICE 
  • Dr James Thomas, Institute of Education
  • Dr Gerry Richardson, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Health Economics, University of York
Plus Icon Outputs

The Final Report "A systematic review of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of peer-based interventions to maintain and improve offender health in prison settings" was published in the HS&DR journal on the NIHR Journals Library website.

The following outputs are also available:

Plus Icon Academic Publications
  • South, J., Bagnall, A-M, Woodall, J. (2017) Developing a typology for peer education and peer support delivered by prisoners.
  • South, J., Woodall, J., Kinsella, K., Bagnall A-M. 2016. A qualitative synthesis of the positive and negative impacts related to delivery of peer-based health interventions in prison settings. BMC Health Services Research,16(1):525. DOI 10.1186/s12913-016-1753
  • Bagnall, A-M; South, J., Hulme, CT, Woodall, J. Vinall-Collier, K., Raine, G., Kinsella, K., Dixey, R., Harris, L. and Wright, NMJ, (2015) A systematic review of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of peer education and peer support in prisons. BMC Public Health, 15(1):290. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/15/290
  • Woodall, J., South, J., Dixey, R., de Viggiani, N. and Penson, W. (2015) Factors that determine the effectiveness of peer interventions in prisons in England and Wales. Prison Service Journal, 219: 30-37.
  • Woodall, J., South, J., Dixey, R., de Viggiani, N. and Penson, W. (2015)  Expert views of peer-based interventions for prisoner health.  International Journal of Prisoner Health, 11(2): 87-97
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