Moving prison health promotion along: Towards an integrative framework for action to develop health promotion and tackle the social determinants of health

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Woodall, J ; de Viggiani, N ; Dixey, R ; South, J (2014)

The majority of prisoners are drawn from deprived circumstances with a range of health and social needs. The current focus within ‘prison health’ does not, and cannot, given its predominant medical model, adequately address the current health and well-being needs of offenders. Adopting a social model of health is more likely to address the wide range of health issues faced by offenders and thus lead to better rehabilitation outcomes. At the same time, broader action at governmental level is required to address the social determinants of health (poverty, unemployment and educational attainment) that marginalise populations and increase the likelihood of criminal activities. Within prison, there is more that can be done to promote prisoners’ health if a move away from a solely curative, medical model is facilitated, towards a preventive perspective designed to promote positive health. Here, we use the Ottawa Charter for health promotion to frame public health and health promotion within prisons and to set out a challenging agenda that would make health a priority for everyone, not just ‘health’ staff, within the prison setting. A series of outcomes under each of the five action areas of the Charter offers a plan of action, showing how each can improve health. We also go further than the Ottawa Charter, to comment on how the values of emancipatory health promotion need to permeate prison health discourse, along with the concept of salutogenesis.
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