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We’re looking for people to take part in our study!

Like the rest of the world our work has been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we’re excited to announce that we’re now ready to start interviews for Qual-P, our study of the quality of healthcare in prison!

We’re now ready to start interviews!

Finding out about quality…

So how can we find out about quality of healthcare? One way is to look at anonymous patient records to examine the care that people have received whilst in prison – and that is one element of the Qual-P study. But that can only give us part of the picture. Why? Because while it can tell us things like what percentage of people have had vaccinations while in prison, it doesn’t tell us about people’s opinions of the care they have received, or what kinds of things have hindered or helped the delivery of care. In other words, it gives us the facts, without the explanation. That’s why we need to talk to people who have direct experience of receiving, managing or delivering care in the prison setting.

Before the pandemic, we would have done most interviews face-to-face; however, with everyone’s safety in mind, we will now be doing interviews by telephone or using video-conferencing software.

Who’ll be involved?

This study provides an opportunity for people who’ve lived in prison or those who manage or deliver health services to talk to us about their experiences of prison healthcare – to tell us their story, whether they’ve lived in prison, or whether they’re a GP, nurse, pharmacist or pharmacy technician, healthcare support worker, paramedic or head of prison healthcare. We’d like to know what’s gone well, what hasn’t, and what could be improved in the future.

What’s it like to take part in a research interview?

As a researcher I’m often asked what it’s like to take part in a research interview. Many of us will have taken part in research studies at some point in our lives (usually by filling in questionnaires) but not many people will have taken part in a research interview. In fact, most people associate the word ‘interview’ with applying for a job – hardly a relaxing encounter! I can assure you that research interviews are very different. While there’s a form to complete at the beginning, to let you know what your rights are, and to confirm your agreement to take part, Qual-P research interviews are far less formal than job interviews. There aren’t any set questions and no ticking of boxes, and you don’t have to answer any questions you don’t want to. You can stop at any time without explaining why. An interview is really just a one-to-one conversation, where the researcher (me!) is interested in hearing about your views and experiences. Interviews take place at a date and time that is convenient for you and typically last for around 30-45 minutes.

Will anyone find out I took part, and what I said?

No. The research team don’t tell anyone who has participated. Interviews are audio-recorded, then typed up without the participant’s name attached. Any names of people and places mentioned during interviews are altered. All the information from the interviews is analysed collectively and the research team are very careful when writing up the study that no-one can be identified. We often use quotes when writing reports – because nothing is as powerful as participants’ own words – but we don’t include people’s names.

The only time we may have to breach confidentiality would be in relation to safeguarding issues if there was a risk of harm to you or someone else. Further information on safeguarding is available in the study information sheets.

There are very strict rules regarding the storage of interview recordings and transcripts that are in accordance with data protection legislation. Everything is stored securely in password-protected files or, if on paper, in locked cabinets.

What happens with the findings of the study?

As the study progresses we’re going to use the information we collect in interviews to identify the key issues that affect the delivery and receipt of healthcare in the prison setting and to think about interventions that could improve the quality of healthcare. The results of the study will be made available to everyone who takes part, and we will reach out to a wider audience through presentations, short articles and academic papers.

Finding out more…

Sue Bellass, Research Fellow

Our website contains more details about the study and what taking part involves but I would love to hear your comments and questions, so please get in touch via the contact page or email me (Sue Bellass) at for more information!

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