People receiving community supervision, and those released from prison, in the UK have greater healthcare needs and lower levels of healthcare access than the general population. Mental health and substance misuse problems are particularly prevalent and co-morbidity is common. People subject to the criminal justice system are also more likely to face social inequalities, such as homelessness and unemployment, particularly those just released from prison. Harmful health behaviours and social inequalities lead to long term poorer health outcomes.
Working in partnership with people who have lived experience of the criminal justice system, the researchers propose to conduct a study in which people receiving community supervision are offered a chance to receive support from a Health Trainer for up to 12 sessions, which follow a clear structure but also offer flexibility. When this begins being offered, people receiving community supervision will probably include all prison leavers, as well as those with community sentences. The aim will be to ensure that clients gain a sense of achievement and competence, a sense of control over choosing which behaviours to change and when and how, and a chance to relate to and receive support from others.
The proposed research be the first step towards finding out if this additional support leads to improvement towards the target health behaviours and improvements in wellbeing and health related quality of life. To do this, participants entering the study will be assigned (with an equal chance) to either the additional support from a Health Trainer or usual support, and followed up at 3 & 6 months by a researcher. The researchers will also investigate whether the extra costs associated with the Health Trainer and extra support provided offer value for money in terms of improved health behaviours and resultant reduction in health care costs.