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Research: behaviour change & health promotion

Developing a sexual health promotion intervention with young men in prisons: a rights-based participatory approach

Templeton, M., Kelly, C., and Lohan, M. (2019)

JMIR Research Protocols

Background: The sexual health of young men in prisons is often among the poorest in any given country. They may have developed sexual behaviors that, from a public health perspective, are considered problematic and burdensome. These include poorer use of condoms and engaging in more frequent casual sex, resulting in higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and viral hepatitis. Thus, young incarcerated men are a highly marginalized and socially excluded high-risk group, in greater need of sexual health education and services.

Objective: The aim of this study was to create an innovative sexual health promotion intervention, made for and with young men in prisons, to encourage them to avail of regular sexual health checkups. This included developing a Web-based animated-style sexual health promotion intervention (1.42 min) coupled with upskilling the prison nurses to offer a partnership approach to prison health care. This paper focuses on the development of the intervention and the importance of the underpinning rights-based (RB) participatory intervention design.

Methods: We employed an RB participatory approach and recruited 14 participants who attended 3 coproduction workshops held within a prison site in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. A bespoke 3-day training for nurses beforehand, ensured they gained a deeper understanding of the determinants of poor sexual health. The coproduction team comprised young men, prison nurses, nurse sexual health consultant, media company representatives, and facilitator. Workshops focused on content, design, tone and medium of communication for a Web-based intervention that would be appealing and engaging for young incarcerated men.

Results: A 1.42-min animation Dick loves Doot was created to promote a positive attitude toward sexual health checkups. The RB approach enabled the young men to participate, have their voices heard and see their stories reflected through the animation. The nurses’ capacities to protect, fulfill, and respect the young men’s rights to appropriate sexual health services and education was also enhanced. Evaluations confirmed that we successfully provided accurate sexual health information in a way that was engaging and accessible and that encouraged the young men to avail of the new prison sexual health services that were set up in the prison and now provided by nurses.

Conclusions: The RB participatory approach to health advanced in this study provided a means to (1) gain invaluable insider knowledge to understand the impact of structural determinants on health and health inequalities and strategies by which to target young incarcerated men (2) create inclusive opportunities for developing bespoke targeted interventions, and (3) galvanize collaborative partnerships to disrupt the structures and processes that lead to and encourage health inequities. To reduce future risk, effective treatment, coupled with coproduced interventions that transmit relevant health messages in a relevant and meaningful way, is key to success.


Keywords: sexual health, male, prison, health promotion, rights-based participation

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The key therapeutic factors needed to deliver behavioural change interventions to decrease risky substance use (drug and alcohol) for looked after children and care leavers: a qualitative exploration with young people, carers and front line workers.

Alderson, H., Brown, R., Copello, A., Kaner, E., Tober, G., Lingam, R. and McGovern, R., 2019


Looked after children and care leavers have an increased risk of drug and alcohol use compared to their non-LAC peers. Despite high prevalence rates within this population, looked after children are reported to show low levels of engagement in services resulting in unmet needs emerging from substance use. This paper reports on the initial formative phase of a pilot feasibility randomised controlled trial; SOLID (Supporting Looked After Children and Care Leavers In Decreasing Drugs, and Alcohol) that aimed to adapt two evidence-based psychosocial interventions, Motivational Enhancement Therapy and Social Behaviour and Network Therapy, which will aim to reduce substance misuse by looked after children.



We conducted qualitative semi-structured interviews and focus groups with 19 looked after children aged 12 to 20 years old, 16 carers and 14 professionals across four local authorities in the North East of England. The data gathered were analysed and then presented within co-production workshops inclusive of 13 young people and 14 professionals (drug and alcohol practitioners and social workers). Findings were used to adapt and refine the interventions prior to the trial.


Overall findings suggested that whilst original components of both interventions were feasible to deliver and acceptable, specific process areas were highlighted including: increased emphasis upon therapeutic relationships, the benefits of using creative non-traditional methods of engagement and identification of treatment goals wider than those narrowly focused on substance misuse.


This paper provides an example of methods used to collect multiple perspectives to refine and co-develop interventions to reduce drug and alcohol use in the specific population of looked after children.

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