Journal article

A systematic review of evaluations of prison‐based alcohol and other drug use behavioural treatment for men

Prisoners Alcohol Drug abuse alcohol and drug interventions Drug abuse treatment Australia
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DOI: 10.1111/1753-6405.12884 246.32 KB


Objective: A history of alcohol and other drug (AoD) use is common among men entering prison and often linked to the crime for which they are imprisoned. This is the first systematic review of prison‐based, behavioural AoD treatment programs for more than a decade and the first that reviews the methodological quality of evaluations. This review aims to create an understanding of the quality of research in this field and identify the most effective AoD use treatment for men in prison.

Methods: A PRISMA‐compliant systematic review of international, peer‐reviewed research published between January 1995 and December 2015. The Dictionary for Effective Public Health Practice Project was used to assess the methodological quality of papers.

Results: A total of 25 relevant papers were identified, of which 12 were rated as methodologically sound. Four of these measured post‐release AoD use and three reported statistically significant reductions in AoD use.

Conclusions: Although there is relatively little methodologically strong evidence of the impact of prison‐based AoD treatment, and no Australian papers studies, current best‐evidence practice is Cognitive behavioural therapy delivered in Therapeutic Community (TC) settings.

Implications for public health: Prison‐based TC treatment should be available to people in prison who have a history of AoD use.

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