Systematic review of qualitative evaluations of reentry programs addressing problematic drug use and mental health disorders amongst people transitioning from prison to communities – 2018

The paper presents a systematic review and metasynthesis of findings from qualitative evaluations of community reentry programs. The programs sought to engage recently released adult prison inmates with either problematic drug use or a mental health disorder.

Seven biomedical and social science databases, Cinahl, Pubmed, Scopus, Proquest, Medline, Sociological abstracts and Web of Science and publisher database Taylor and Francis were searched in 2016 resulting in 2373 potential papers. Abstract reviews left 140 papers of which 8 were included after detailed review. Major themes and subthemes were identified through grounded theory inductive analysis of results from the eight papers. Of the final eight papers the majority (6) were from the United States. In total, the papers covered 405 interviews and included 121 (30%) females and 284 (70%) males.

Findings suggest that the interpersonal skills of case workers; access to social support and housing; and continuity of case worker relationships throughout the pre-release and post-release period are key social and structural factors in program success.

Evaluation of community reentry programs requires qualitative data to contextualize statistical findings and identify social and structural factors that impact on reducing incarceration and improving participant health. These aspects of program efficacy have implications for reentry program development and staff training and broader social and health policy and services.

Sacha Kendall, Sarah Redshaw, Stephen Ward, Sarah Wayland and Elizabeth SullivanEmail author
Health & Justice 2018 6:4