Objectives: To further understanding of how health and correctional staff responses to self-harming behaviours influence prisoners and their subsequent actions.
Design: Participant-centred, qualitative methods were used to explore the complex and under-researched perspectives of self-harming male prisoners.
Method: 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusions: These findings underscore the need for appropriate training, support and supervision for staff working with self-harming prisoners.
©2011 The British Psychological Society.