Staff and patient perspectives on the purpose of psychotropic prescribing in prisons: Care or control?

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    Objective: The objective was to explore perspectives on reasons for psychotropic medication use in prisons. Method: We recruited a purposive sample of healthcare staff and patients prescribed psychotropic medicines from four East of England prisons. Participants took part in qualitative, semistructured interviews, which were recorded, transcribed and analyzed thematically. Results: While patients and healthcare staff viewed psychotropic medicines primarily as a treatment for reducing symptoms of mental illness, they were also used as a coping strategy and to reduce insomnia. Appropriate psychotropic prescribing was also thought to contribute towards the rehabilitation agenda and helped to maintain order in prisons. Staff voiced concerns regarding possible overreliance on psychotropic medicines. However, patients perceived insufficient access to alternative, nonpharmacological forms of treatment and support in prison. Conclusion: Psychotropic medicines are used for multiple purposes in prisons and are generally considered a useful resource. Nonetheless, further work may be needed to find the right balance between psychotropic medicines and alternative, nonpharmacological therapies. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)433-438
    Number of pages5
    JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


    • Medicine
    • Mental illness
    • Prison
    • Psychopharmacology
    • Qualitative


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