Health care for prisoners: Assessing the societal and prisoner perspectives of its value

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Strands Project Theme
Project Funding
National Health and Medical Research Council
Project Description

The health care needs of prisoners can be complex in nature, as a consequence of cancer, stroke, diabetes and heart disease through to treatment for hepatitis C, drug and alcohol dependence, and mental illnesses each of which occurs at significantly higher rates than the population average. While the prison setting provides a unique opportunity to address health needs, treatments are often expensive, require considerable coordination, and consume scarce societal resources.  This is problematic as the substantive pool of untreated prisoners are likely to have a deteriorating course, often returning to the community after relatively short periods, thereby imposing this substantive burden on society. Additionally, the provision of treatment could substantially lower future population rates of disease, and ongoing health care and criminal justice system costs.

This study proposes to evaluate societal and prisoner preferences for healthcare spending in the prison setting, using a number of solicitation methods (including Contingent Valuation (CV) and Discrete Choice Experiments (DCE)). The findings of such analyses can then be combined to present evidence on the economic costs, and clinical outcomes and perceived social benefits of such an intervention.  This study will provide valuable information for policy makers, treatment providers, other practitioners and ethics committees and health economists regarding the strengths of preferences of society and prisoners to provide healthcare within prisons.  The study will provide a monetary valuation of the health benefits relative to costs, and will help to promote a better understanding of some of the difficult issues faced by ethics committees in considering research proposals in offender health.  Insofar as such difficulties relate to not knowing how acceptable to the public various changes in policy towards offender health might be.  


Project Contact
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Ph +61 (2) 9385 9257 / 041 111 4927