Involving incarcerated individuals in the research process: Perspectives of key stakeholders

Abstract on behalf of Mark E Johnson, Christiane Brems, Michael E Mills, and Gloria D Eldridge

litchfieldGiven the considerable potential for participatory action research in correctional settings, this study gathered stakeholders’ perspectives on involving adults in custody throughout the research process. Using mixed methods, the study identified participants’ level of interest in involving prisoners in the research process to inform educational efforts to increase correctional participatory action research. Qualitative data were gathered from 94 prison administrators, Institutional Review Board throughout the Abstract section.] members, prisoner representatives, research ethicists, and correctional researchers; quantitative data were collected from 1228 correctional and non-correctional mental health researchers, correctional and non-correctional Institutional Review Board members, and prisoner representatives. Qualitative data revealed lack of understanding of participatory action research concepts and advantages along with disagreement about whether prisoner involvement is desirable. Quantitative data revealed that respondents were most supportive of involving incarcerated individuals in contributing ideas for future research, planning recruitment procedures, developing participant protection procedures, and disseminating information to correctional populations. Respondents least supported involving adults in custody in disseminating findings to scientific venues, designing research and protocols, interpreting data, and setting research agendas. Combined, findings indicate efforts are needed to educate stakeholders about participatory action research’s value in correctional settings. This is particularly true related to soliciting prisoner voices in proactive and meaningful ways and moving beyond simply seeking input about measures selection or recruitment advice.

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