Health-promoting prisons: theory to practice

Glob Health Promot. 2016 Mar;23(1 Suppl):66-74. doi: 10.1177/1757975915614182.


As a setting, prisons offer a unique opportunity to invest in the health of disadvantaged and marginalised populations and address health inequalities and social exclusion - thereby achieving sustainable improvements in well-being for offenders and their families and in turn, helping to reduce rates of re-offending. This article draws on English and French experiences and doctoral research to advocate a shift from a pathogenic model towards a salutogenic model of health as a helpful way to address inequalities and thus, by promoting joined-up working across justice and wider systems, impact positively beyond 'health' for the effective resettlement of prisoners. The paper utilises examples from horticulture to further argue the powerful role of nature in the prison setting in mediating aspects of culture particularly relating to processes of socialisation. Critical success lies in bridging across systems and a commitment to joined-up working at all levels across and beyond prison.

Keywords: empowerment/power; equity/social justice; health promotion; public health; salutogenesis; settings; systems.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prisoners / statistics & numerical data
  • Prisons*
  • Program Development
  • Socioeconomic Factors