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Three Prisons Study

8th Feb 2016

Three Prisons Study

This study is funded by a grant from the Wellcome Trust, facilitated by the IFBB, and is being carried out by the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) at the University of Oxford with Professor John Stein as Principal Investigator and Dr Bernard Gesch as co-ordinator.

The study took place in three Young Offender Institutions – Hindley, Lancaster Farms and Polmont. Notwithstanding the mainly bureaucratic difficulties faced, the team was able to recruit 856 prisoners over a full six months, of whom 771 reached the 80% compliance required to be included in the analysis. These are lower numbers than hoped for, but this is still a large data set and an impressive achievement. The potential sample was significantly reduced by Ministry of Justice requirements that the team only recruit prisoners who were likely to be in the study for a particular fixed period, which excluded short-term and remand prisoners. Many prisoners who wished to volunteer were unable to do so because of these constraints. Difficulties also arose when many prisoners recruited were moved to different prisons during the trial before they had completed the full six months and so were unable to complete the study. Such ‘re-rolls’, though understandable from the prison’s own management perspective, are known to have an unsettling effect on the prison’s population, which is likely also to have contributed to variability in the results. Analysis of the results has been making slow but steady progress because of such variability.

In 2012 we received confirmation of a follow-on grant from the Wellcome Trust enabling the analysis on the blood and hair samples taken during the study to be completed. This will give us a much clearer and deeper picture of what happened during the study.

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