The development and evaluation of a telepsychiatry service for prisoners

Authors

  • S. LEONARD bsc rn (mm) dip ndip b&fdip ptsdcounselling

    Corresponding author
    1. Research Fellow/Forensic Psychiatric Nurse, School of Nursing and Midwifery/Ravenswood House Medium Secure Service, Highfield Campus, University of Southampton, Southampton, Hampshire, UK
      S. Leonard
      Research Fellow/Forensic
      Psychiatric Nurse
      School of Nursing and Midwifery/
      Ravenswood House Medium
      Secure Service
      Highfield Campus
      University of Southampton
      Southampton
      Hampshire
      SO17 1BJ
      UK
      E-mail: s.leonard@soton.ac.uk
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S. Leonard
Research Fellow/Forensic
Psychiatric Nurse
School of Nursing and Midwifery/
Ravenswood House Medium
Secure Service
Highfield Campus
University of Southampton
Southampton
Hampshire
SO17 1BJ
UK
E-mail: s.leonard@soton.ac.uk

Abstract

The introduction of increasingly sophisticated telecommunication systems seems to offer opportunities to respond to some of the key problems around structural and spatial inequalities in access to health care. There is evidence which suggests that serious mental health problems are common among prisoners and psychiatric comorbidity is the norm. Many prisoners have complex mental health needs, but more often than not these remain unaddressed. Telepsychiatry is one strategy to improve the accessibility and quality of mental health care in the prison setting. This paper firstly reviews the current prison health care system and then describes a research study which is focused on the development and evaluation of a telepsychiatry service for prisoners. This study has investigated what is lost or gained in a psychiatric assessment when it is conducted via telepsychiatry. The researcher compared the inter-rater reliability between two raters interviewing 80 participants in an observer/interviewer split configuration in telepsychiatry and same room settings. The measure used was the Comprehensive Psychopathology Rating Scale. Prisoners and prison staff also took part in semi-structured interviews which focused on their satisfaction and acceptability of the telepsychiatry service. A cost comparison of the telepsychiatry service with the existing visiting service was conducted. This paper outlines the study design and focuses on the potential impact that telepsychiatry may have upon the practice setting.

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