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Evaluation of Keep Well in Prisons

Published: April 2011


This social research study evaluates the first six months of Scotland’s Keep Well in Prisons (KWiP) programme to assess the quality of delivery and its impact on raising awareness and changing attitudes towards health issues.


We found that KWiP can play an important role in contributing to a shift in the prevailing norms and cultures within prisons. The programme’s potential to inform attitudes and practices in the prison service will improve through sustained activity within prisons to reinforce it as a mainstream service.

Prisoners’ attitudes

  • There was good participation by prisoners and evidence of modest attitude and behavioural change.
  • While prisoners showed a willingness to address health issues of smoking and poor diet, the research identified a continuing need to support prisoners to address these areas of their health as well as see the benefit of regular health checks.

Prison staff and nurses

The programme was also well-received by prison staff and KWiP nurses:

  • The seconded KWiP nurses appreciated their role, enjoyed the programme’s focus on health promotion.
  • They also felt that the learning would be transferred when they returned to the prison health care service.

Future success

The research found that, if prisons are to become health-promoting environments, there is a need to ensure that prison settings become facilitators for change, rather than barriers to change. This will include:

  • a prison-wide approach;
  • support and communication by all prison staff;
  • and structural changes to deliver opportunities to make health-related behavioural changes.


There were three phases to the research analysis:

  • Scoping (September 2010) including documentary analysis, interviews and group discussions with key personnel.
  • Quantitative analysis of national monitoring data, including the costs of KWiP delivery.
  • Qualitative research in four prisons which included semi-structured, face-to-face interviews with 32 prisoners (8 per prison) and 20 prison staff (5 per prison).

Read the report