Prison inmates’ quality of life, exercise, and drug use
The Norwegian Offender Mental Health and Addiction Study (NORMA), led by Anne Bukten of SERAF/OUS, is one of the largest surveys in the world.
1,499 inmates in Norwegian prisons answered questionnaires that Bukten distributed, providing data on everything from drug use in their families growing up, to how easy it is to get drugs in prison, to how often they exercise. They also answered a short quality of life instrument, the QOL5, which SERAF researcher Ashley Muller has validated in an article published in the International Journal of Prisoner Health.
Exercise was related to higher quality of life
Higher quality of life was reported by those who exercised and by those with less mental distress. Exercise is already used to improve the quality of life of a range of healthy and clinical groups, but this is the first time its relationship to quality of life among inmates has been reported. One out of four inmates had used drugs in prison, but drug use was not related to quality of life.
Clinically useful and easy to use
In many marginalized populations, including inmates, self-reports are seldom queried
and well-being has not traditionally been prioritized. Reporting on quality of life may therefore be a particularly empowering assessment for the respondent, while simultaneously providing information about the rehabilitative process that cannot be collected through proxy indicators.
The QOL5 is a short and acceptable tool, and it is available by the authors in English, Danish, and Norwegian upon request.