How do professionals experience working with offenders diagnosed with personality disorder within a prison environment?

Ellena Cooke, Zoe Stephenson, John Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
329 Downloads (Pure)


Aims: To explore the different experiences of a Multi-Disciplinary Team working with offenders diagnosed with Personality Disorder (PD) and produce a substantive model of the Offender Personality Disorder Pathway strategy from a staff perspective.

Method: Fourteen participants were recruited from ‘Unit A’ located within a high
security prison. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants and the data collected were analysed using constructivist grounded theory.

Results: A model was constructed depicting the experiences of those working with offenders with PD. Main themes identified were: prison environment; synergy of the workforce; understanding of the client; individual perceptions; support; and personal change. Although there was enough similarity within the participants’ responses to consider them to be a homogenous population, there were some noticeable differences in trends of responses evident between the two sub-groups of health service based clinical staff and prison staff as expressed in the model.

Conclusions: There is interplay between factors which influence an individual’s
experience of working with offenders with PD. How a member of staff experiences working with offenders with PD depends on more than just the nature of the client and the challenges they pose. These factors external to the client group appear to have a significant impact on the professional and their emotional experiences of their work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
JournalThe Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology
Early online date24 May 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 May 2017


  • personality disorder
  • offenders
  • offender personality disorder pathway
  • qualitative research
  • staff


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