Mapping Palliative Care Provision for Prisoners in Europe


The Task Force on Palliative Care for Prisoners was launched at EAPC in Madrid in May 2017. It has two main aims:

  1. To develop an international network of professionals interested in palliative care for prisoners from as many European countries as possible, and other countries outside of Europe.
  2. To undertake scoping work in five countries to map the current provision of palliative care for prisoners.


Prisoner populations in many countries are rising, in part because of ageing populations, and as a consequence increasing numbers of prisoners are approaching the end of life in custody. In most countries there is little or no research in this area, and even where there is a growing body of research it is still in its infancy and there remain large gaps in knowledge. In addition, different countries have different policies and approaches to dying prisoners; in some places such prisoners would always be released at the end of life, whilst in others compassionate release is rare. To date there has been no scoping or mapping work undertaken across European countries, so there exists no overview of palliative care provision for prisoners. This Task Force will begin to address this lack of knowledge by scoping palliative care provision in five European countries. However, in order to do this we first need to gain an understanding of prison systems and structures in each country, and also develop links with key individuals working within the prison systems in each country.

The Task Force is following the project plan and is currently meeting the milestones as set out in the Gantt chart.

Developing a network

The network that started in Madrid with 19 members has continued to develop steadily and currently consists of 42 members from 12 countries. A newsletter was emailed to all members in January 2018 to provide an update on the work of the Task Force, and to share links to papers and articles relevant to palliative care for prisoners. We plan to circulate three newsletters per year.

Scoping work

Work has started on developing the survey and questionnaire that will be used in the scoping phase. Each of the country leads has also started to engage with key individuals to develop a better understanding of the systems and processes that will be required to facilitate the scoping work. Part A of the scoping work (collection of descriptive data about prisons and prison systems) is due to start in August 2018; Part B (questionnaire to be sent to all prisons in the 5 countries) will be distributed in May 2019.


The Steering Group has already identified a number of challenges. The principal challenges are:

  • A lack of resources to undertake the scoping work. Members of the Steering Group will lead this work but it is likely to be limited without further support and/or funding.
  • A lack of appropriate networks to facilitate access to prisons in some of the countries.
  • The need for ethical and governance approvals in each country before the Part B questionnaire can be distributed; this is likely to be a complex and time-consuming process.

Steering Group members will continue to work to try and overcome these challenges, but acknowledge that progress is likely to be varied across the different countries.



May 2017 (at EAPC in Madrid) 

Formal launch of Task Force

Dec 2017

Identification of country leads

July 2018

Development of survey and questionnaire

Dec 2018

Collection of descriptive data (Part A)

Apr 2019

Analysis of descriptive data

Jul 2019

 Distribution and completion of questionnaire (Part B)

Dec 2019 

Analysis of questionnaire data

May 2020 

Preparation of White Paper


Dr Mary Turner

Reader in Health Services Research,
University of Huddersfield
Huddersfield, HD1 3DH, UK

To contact please click here


Prof Piotr Krakowiak

Professor of Social Work
Nicolas Copernicus University
Torun, Poland

To contact please click here

Steering Committee

Dr Katherine Pettus, Advocacy Officer, IAHPC; Vice Chair, Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs; Secretary, NGO Committee on Ageing, Vienna, Austria.
Juliana Bindasova, Research Fellow, Centre for Palliative Care, Prague, Czech Republic.
Aline Chassagne, Researcher, Clinical Investigation Centre 1431, University Hospital Besancon, France and PhD student in sociology and anthropology, University of Bourgogne, France.
Elodie Cretin, Researcher, Clinical Investigation Centre 1431, University Hospital Besancon, France
Jose Miguel Carrasco, Spain 


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