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Expert views of peer-based interventions for prisoner health

Penson, William; Woodall, James; South, Jane; Dixey, Rachael; De Viggiani, Nick; Penson, Bill

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William Penson

James Woodall

Jane South

Rachael Dixey

Bill Penson


© Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose: Formalised support services for prisoners that rely on peer methods of delivery show promising health and social outcomes but there is also conjecture that negative effects, both at an individual and organisational level, can occur. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach: Individuals with recognised professional expertise from various sectors (including ex-prisoners) were invited to contribute to an expert symposium to share their perceptions of the positive and negative effects of peer interventions in prison. Discussions and debate were audio recorded with the consent of all delegates and verbatim transcripts were analysed using framework analysis. Findings: According to the participants, peer interventions in the prison setting created both positive and negative impacts. It was clear from the evidence gathered that peer interventions in prisons can impact positively on health outcomes, but these effects were perceived to be more well-defined for peer deliverers. The notion that peer deliverers can be subjected to "burnout" suggests that supervisory processes for peer workers need to be considered carefully in order to avoid the intervention from being counter-productive. Organisationally, one of the salient issues was the adverse effects that peer interventions cause to the security of the prison. Originality/value: To the authors' knowledge, this is the first time an expert symposium has been conducted to specifically examine peer interventions in prison and to consider the effects, both positive and negative, of such schemes.


Penson, W., Woodall, J., South, J., Dixey, R., De Viggiani, N., & Penson, B. (2015). Expert views of peer-based interventions for prisoner health. International Journal of Prisoner Health, 11(2), 87-97.

Journal Article Type Review
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jun 6, 2019
Journal International Journal of Prisoner Health
Print ISSN 1744-9200
Electronic ISSN 1744-9219
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 2
Pages 87-97
Keywords health policy, health promotion, mental health, prison, health in prison, public health
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


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