Question: In adults in prison populations, how effective are mindfulness based interventions, in improving patient outcomes?


Plain language summary

There is very little evidence available which looks specifically into the effectiveness of mindfulness interventions for adults in prison populations. More high quality research in this area is required and it is also important that long-term follow up studies are conducted in order to adequately assess the effectiveness of mindfulness interventions on improving patient outcomes.

Clinical and research implications

Evidence about the effectiveness of mindfulness interventions in adult prison populations is weak. Only one, small randomised control, with substantial methodological weaknesses, specifically stated that the meditation intervention being evaluated was mindfulness based. Although this trial did report that the intervention was associated with significant improvements in depression, anxiety and overall mood, outcomes were measured immediately post-intervention and no long-term follow-up was reported. In addition, the study was conducted in male long-term prisoners in China, all of whom had committed serious offences, and may therefore be of limited applicability to the general prison population in the UK.

Studies are needed to assess the effects of specific mindfulness interventions. Interventions should be clearly described and compared to alternative active interventions as well as control groups. Possible differential effects of mindfulness interventions in different types of prison populations should be investigated. Long-term follow-up is particularly important to determine whether any observed effects persist beyond the study period.

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