Establishing hospice care for prison populations: An integrative review assessing the UK and USA perspective

Palliat Med. 2012 Dec;26(8):969-78. doi: 10.1177/0269216311424219. Epub 2011 Oct 12.


Background: models of care based on the hospice model have delivered effective support to dying people since their inception. Over the last 20 years this form of care has also been introduced into the prison system (mainly in the United States) to afford terminally ill inmates the right to die with dignity.

Aim: the aim of this review is to examine the evidence from the United States and the United Kingdom on the promotion of palliative care in the prison sector, summarizing examples of good practice and identifying barriers for the provision of end-of-life care within the prison environment both in the USA and UK.

Design: an integrative review design was adopted using the Green et al. model incorporating theoretical and scientific lines of enquiry.

Data sources: literature was sourced from six electronic databases between the years 2000 and 2011; the search rendered both qualitative and quantitative papers, discussion papers, 'grey literature' and other review articles.

Results: the results highlight a number of issues surrounding the implementation of palliative care services within the prison setting and emphasize the disparity between the USA model of care (which emphasizes the in-prison hospice) and the UK model of care (which emphasizes palliative care in-reach) for dying prisoners.

Conclusion: the provision of palliative care for the increasing prison population remains under-researched globally, with a notable lack of evidence from the United Kingdom.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Plan Implementation*
  • Hospice Care / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care / organization & administration*
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Prisons / organization & administration*
  • Terminally Ill / psychology
  • United Kingdom
  • United States