Barriers to accessing psychological treatment for medium to high risk male young offenders

Katherine McGrath

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

313 Downloads (Pure)


Within the young offender population, rates of personality disorder and
mood disorders are considerably higher than both the general and adult offender population. Despite this high level of need and high risk of harm psychological services within prisons are widely underutilized. No research to date has explored the barriers to accessing psychological treatment for male young offenders, aged 18-21, detained in a UK prison. This study was aiming to address this gap in the literature. It compared self-reported barriers and psychological distress levels for Black Minority Ethnic (BME) and White young offenders not accessing treatment as well as those who are. This study was a quantitative cross-sectional design, 128 participants were recruited in order to achieve a medium effect size. Service user consultation guided the recruitment strategy.
BME young offenders not engaged in treatment reported significantly more barriers, including more stigma related barriers, to accessing treatment than BME young offenders who were engaged in treatment, but both groups had equal levels of psychological distress. This result was not found among the White young offenders. There was no significant difference between BME and White young offenders in the number of barriers reported, including stigma barriers. Higher scores on an antisocial personality screen increased the likelihood of an offender being in treatment and a higher number of self-reported barriers to accessing treatment decreased the likelihood of an offender being in treatment.
While these findings need to be considered within their limitations, this study has addressed a number of gaps in the clinical forensic literature in terms of sample characteristics, recruitment location and methodology. Future research should seek to explore the subgroup of BME young offenders who seem to face additional barriers as well as further predictors of engagement in treatment whilst in prison.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Schauman, O, Supervisor
  • Shaw, Jake, Supervisor, External person
  • Farquharson, Lorna, Supervisor, External person
Award date1 Nov 2018
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018


  • Young offenders
  • Prison research
  • barriers to care
  • BME
  • psychological treatment
  • forensic psychology
  • clinical psychology
  • male offenders
  • Stigma
  • Antisocial behaviour
  • Prisoners

Cite this