Effectiveness of interventions to improve employment for people released from prison: systematic review and meta-analysis



Connell C, Birken M, Carver H, Brown T & Greenhalgh J (2023) Effectiveness of interventions to improve employment for people released from prison: systematic review and meta-analysis. Health and Justice, 11, Art. No.: 17.

Background: People released from prison experience complex health challenges in addition to challenges resettling into the community. Consequently, employment rates are low. Participating in good quality employment can support good health and is protective against future reoffending. Multiple interventions are provided to support people into employment on release. The effectiveness of interventions for improving employment outcomes has not previously been evaluated in a meta-analysis. Aim: Our objective was to examine the effectiveness of interventions to improve employment following release from prison. Method: We searched seven databases and three trial registries for peer reviewed randomised controlled trials (RCTs), published since 2010, that included adults and measured an employment outcome(s). We conducted meta-analysis using random effects models with subgroup and sensitivity analyses. We appraised bias risk per outcome, and incorporated this into an assessment of the certainty estimates for each outcome. A group of people with experience of imprisonment met with us throughout the project to inform our search strategy and interpretation of results. Results: We included 12 RCTs (2,875 participants) which were all conducted in the USA. Few outcomes were of low risk of bias. Intervention participants were 2.5 times more likely to work at least one day (95% CI:1.82-3.43) and worked more days over 12 months (MD = 59.07, 95% CI:15.83-102.32) compared to controls. There was no effect on average employment status or employment at study end. There is moderate certainty in these estimates. Conclusion: Interventions can improve some employment outcomes for people released from prison. More evidence is required to establish effective interventions for sustaining quality employment, particularly outside the USA, and which consider outcomes for different groups of people released, such as women or those with health or substance use needs.

Offenders; Employment; Meta-analysis; Systematic review; Rehabilitation; Reintegration; Resettlement

Health and Justice: Volume 11

FundersRoyal College of Occupational Therapists
Publication date31/12/2023
Publication date online14/03/2023
Date accepted by journal02/03/2023

People (3)


Dr Hannah Carver

Dr Hannah Carver

Senior Lecturer, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Dr Catriona Connell

Dr Catriona Connell

Research Fellow, Faculty of Social Sciences

Miss Jessica Greenhalgh

Miss Jessica Greenhalgh

Research Assistant, Faculty of Social Sciences

Projects (1)