Evaluation of a complex intervention (Engager) for prisoners with common mental health problems, near to and after release: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial.
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INTRODUCTION: The 'Engager' programme is a 'through-the-gate' intervention designed to support prisoners with common mental health problems as they transition from prison back into the community. The trial will evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of the Engager intervention. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: The study is a parallel two-group randomised controlled trial with 1:1 individual allocation to either: (a) the Engager intervention plus standard care (intervention group) or (b) standard care alone (control group) across two investigation centres (South West and North West of England). Two hundred and eighty prisoners meeting eligibility criteria will take part. Engager is a person-centred complex intervention delivered by practitioners and aimed at addressing offenders' mental health and social care needs. It comprises one-to-one support for participants prior to release from prison and for up to 20 weeks postrelease. The primary outcome is change in psychological distress measured by the Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation-Outcome Measure at 6 months postrelease. Secondary outcomes include: assessment of subjective met/unmet need, drug and alcohol use, health-related quality of life and well-being-related quality of life measured at 3, 6 and 12 months postrelease; change in objective social domains, drug and alcohol dependence, service utilisation and perceived helpfulness of services and change in psychological constructs related to desistence at 6 and 12 months postrelease; and recidivism at 12 months postrelease. A process evaluation will assess fidelity of intervention delivery, test hypothesised mechanisms of action and look for unintended consequences. An economic evaluation will estimate the cost-effectiveness. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This study has been approved by the Wales Research Ethics Committee 3 (ref: 15/WA/0314) and the National Offender Management Service (ref: 2015-283). Findings will be disseminated to commissioners, clinicians and service users via papers and presentations. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN11707331; Pre-results.
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