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Br J Clin Psychol. 2012 Mar;51(1):4-18. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8260.2010.02007.x. Epub 2011 Mar 8.

The impact of prison staff responses on self-harming behaviours: prisoners' perspectives.

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Department of Psychiatry, Centre for Suicide Research, Warneford Hospital, University of Oxford, UK.



To further understanding of how health and correctional staff responses to self-harming behaviours influence prisoners and their subsequent actions.


Participant-centred, qualitative methods were used to explore the complex and under-researched perspectives of self-harming male prisoners.


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 adult male prisoners who had engaged in repetitive, non-suicidal self-harm during their current prison sentence, or considered doing so. The interviews were analyzed drawing on principles of thematic analysis and discourse analysis.


With some exceptions, prison officers, nurses, and doctors are portrayed by prisoners as being ill-prepared to deal with repetitive self-harm, often displaying actively hostile attitudes and behaviours.


These findings underscore the need for appropriate training, support and supervision for staff working with self-harming prisoners.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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