The development and evaluation of a mindfulness-based intervention for incarcerated young men

Byrne, Sharon (2017) The development and evaluation of a mindfulness-based intervention for incarcerated young men. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Background There is considerable evidence that mindfulness-based interventions help in the treatment of psychological and emotional distress. Incarcerated young men are known to experience difficulties in these areas. However, the utility of mindfulness-based interventions among incarcerated young men remains largely unknown. This thesis set out to explore mindfulness for young men, aged 18-21 years, housed at Her Majesty’s Young Offender Institute in Polmont, Scotland. The specific research objectives were to:
1. Develop a bespoke mindfulness-based course;
2. Determine recruitment and retention to the mindfulness course and research study;
3. Investigate the feasibility of data collection and potential effectiveness of the
mindfulness course, in terms of its impact on impulsivity, mental wellbeing, inner resilience, mindfulness, and emotional regulation;
4. Explore the young men’s experience of the course.

Methods The research was guided by the United Kingdom Medical Research Council guidance for developing and evaluating complex interventions. A scoping review assessed existing evidence for the use of mindfulness-based interventions in offending populations. A bespoke mindfulness-based intervention was developed and the feasibility of its evaluation assessed using a mixed-methods approach to data collection. Qualitative interviews with course participants (n=20), prison staff (n=4) and the mindfulness teacher (n=1) were conducted. Interviews with course participants and the mindfulness teacher were first subject to rapid appraisal to inform course development. The full qualitative data set were subject to in-depth thematic analysis to understand barriers to recruitment and retention and experience of the course. Quantitative measurements were targeted at key outcomes of interest: impulsivity, mental wellbeing, inner resilience, mindfulness and emotional regulation. SPSS was used to analysis the data.

Results The scoping review identified that there is currently no optimal mindfulness-based intervention for use with incarcerated young men. A standardised Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course was initially delivered and then required numerous adaptations to meet the young men’s needs. Recruitment and retention was challenging; remaining low throughout the duration of the study despite trying several recruitment strategies and successive modifications to the intervention. Data collection was found to be
feasible at baseline and post-course but not at 3-month follow-up. Most measures used were age appropriate and demonstrated good internal consistency. A trend towards positive improvements by the end of the course was shown for: impulsivity (effect size: 0.72, p=0.001), mental wellbeing (ES: 0.50, p= 0.003), mindfulness (ES: 0.32, p=0.03), and inner resilience/meaningfulness (ES: 0.32, p=0.03).
Most young men spoke of finding the course boring, strange, and unfamiliar at first, but this changed as they began to experience benefit. They reported finding the ‘body scan’ and ‘breathing techniques’ most helpful. A range of positive experiences were described including better sleep, reduced stress, greater relaxation, enhanced sense of control, and improved relationships. Most of the young men said they hoped to sustain their mindfulness practices when released back into the community.

Conclusions Despite the challenges faced, preliminary findings suggested that mindfulness-based interventions have the potential to benefit incarcerated young men. More high quality research is required before definitive recommendations on the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based course for incarcerated young men can be made.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Incarcerated, mindfulness, meditation, offending, mixed methods, scoping review.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Supervisor's Name: Mercer, Professor Stewart W. and Wyke, Professor Sally
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Ms Sharon Byrne
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8141
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 May 2017 11:37
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2017 12:18

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