Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Health Services Research and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

The prisoner as patient - a health services satisfaction survey

Johan Håkon Bjørngaard13*, Åse-Bente Rustad2 and Ellen Kjelsberg2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7465 Trondheim, Norway

2 Centre for Forensic Psychiatry, Oslo University Hospital, 0407 Oslo, Norway

3 SINTEF Health Services Research, 7465 Trondheim, Norway

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Health Services Research 2009, 9:176  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-176

Published: 28 September 2009



There is evidence for higher morbidity among prison inmates than in the general population. Despite this, patient satisfaction with the prison health services is scarcely investigated. The aim of the present study was to investigate patient satisfaction with prison health services in Norway and to analyze possible patient and service effects.


The survey took part in 29 prisons in the southern and central part of Norway, representing 62% of the total prison capacity in Norway. A total of 1,150 prison inmates with prison health services experiences completed a satisfaction questionnaire (90% response rate). The patients' satisfaction was measured on a 12-item index. Multilevel analyses were used to analyze both patient and service characteristics as predictors of satisfaction.


The study revealed high levels of dissatisfaction with prison health services. There were substantial differences between services, with between-service-variance accounting for 9% of the total variance. Satisfaction was significantly associated with a senior staff member's evaluation of the health services possessing adequate resources and the quality of drug abuse treatment. At the patient level, satisfaction was significantly associated with older age, frequent consultations and better self-perceived health.


Prison inmates' satisfaction with the health services provided are low compared with patient satisfaction measured in other health areas. The substantial differences observed between services - even when adjusting for several known factors associated with patient satisfaction - indicate a potential for quality improvement.