Using a Delphi process to define priorities for prison health research in Canada Academic Article uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVES: A large number of Canadians spend time in correctional facilities each year, and they are likely to have poor health compared to the general population. Relatively little health research has been conducted in Canada with a focus on people who experience detention or incarceration. We aimed to conduct a Delphi process with key stakeholders to define priorities for research in prison health in Canada for the next 10 years. SETTING: We conducted a Delphi process using an online survey with two rounds in 2014 and 2015. PARTICIPANTS: We invited key stakeholders in prison health research in Canada to participate, which we defined as persons who had published research on prison health in Canada since 1994 and persons in the investigators' professional networks. We invited 143 persons to participate in the first round and 59 participated. We invited 137 persons to participate in the second round and 67 participated. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Participants suggested topics in the first round, and these topics were collated by investigators. We measured the level of agreement among participants that each collated topic was a priority for prison health research in Canada for the next 10 years, and defined priorities based on the level of agreement. RESULTS: In the first round, participants suggested 71 topics. In the second round, consensus was achieved that a large number of suggested topics were research priorities. Top priorities were diversion and alternatives to incarceration, social and community re-integration, creating healthy environments in prisons, healthcare in custody, continuity of healthcare, substance use disorders and the health of Aboriginal persons in custody. CONCLUSIONS: Generated in an inclusive and systematic process, these findings should inform future research efforts to improve the health and healthcare of people who experience detention and incarceration in Canada.


  • Kouyoumdjian, Fiona
  • Schuler, Andrée
  • McIsaac, Kathryn E
  • Pivnick, Lucie
  • Matheson, Flora I
  • Brown, Glenn
  • Kiefer, Lori
  • Silva, Diego
  • Hwang, Stephen W

publication date

  • January 2016