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Working with women prisoners who seriously harm themselves: Ratings of staff expressed emotion (EE)

Moore, Estelle, Andargachew, Sara and Taylor, Pamela Jane 2011. Working with women prisoners who seriously harm themselves: Ratings of staff expressed emotion (EE). Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health 21 (1) , pp. 63-74. 10.1002/cbm.795

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BACKGROUND: Prison staff are repeatedly exposed to prisoners' suicidal behaviours; this may impair their capacity to care. Expressed emotion (EE), as a descriptor of the 'emotional climate' between people, has been associated with challenging behaviour in closed environments, but not previously applied to working alliances in a prison. AIMS: To investigate the feasibility of rating EE between staff and suicidal women in prison; to test the hypothesis that most such staff-inmate alliances would be rated high EE. METHODS: All regular staff on two small UK prison units with high suicidal behaviour rates were invited to participate. An audiotaped five-minute speech sample (FMSS) about work with one nominated suicidal prisoner was embedded in a longer research interview, then rated by two trained raters, independent of the interview process and the prison. RESULTS: Seven prison officers and 8 clinically qualified staff completed interviews; 3 refused, but 17 others were not interviewed, reasons including not having worked long enough with any one such prisoner. Participants and non-participants had similar relevant backgrounds. Contrary to our hypothesis, EE ratings were generally 'low'. As predicted, critical comments were directed at high frequency oppositional behaviour. CONCLUSIONS: EE assessments with prison staff are feasible, but our sample was small and turnover of prisoners high, so the study needs replication. Attributions about problem behaviour to illness, and/or traumatic life experience, tend to confirm generally supportive working relationships in this sample.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0957-9664
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 08:34

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