Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Peter Kobrak

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Fodor

Third Advisor

Dr. C. Richard Spates


There is a paucity of literature on how treatment programs for mentally ill prisoners are developed. Federal mandates require that services to mentally ill prisoners be comparable to what is offered in the community. Planners, therefore, must find ways to provide treatment programs that produce that outcome.

This research identified the most important factors that affect treatment program development and implementation to aid planners in designing treatment programs for mentally ill prisoners. This qualitative study, based on grounded theory, used a structured interview with 61 mental health staff (psychiatrists, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and activity therapists) across three categories (Administrative, Clinical, and Non-Clinical). Subjects identified 17 factors that affect treatment program development and 16 factors that affect treatment program implementation. A representative subsample of 30 subjects that included each category then rated these factors from most to least important using a Likert scale of 1 (most important) to 5 (least important). Factors were then rank ordered from the highest to lowest by their median score.

All categories combined identified “staffing levels on the unit to do programming” as the most important factor affecting treatment program development and the least important factor as “ political factors.” Subjects identified the “ treatment team working together/a good functioning team” as the factor having the most significant impact on treatment program implementation, and “patient attitude/behavior/motivation” as the least important. The structured interviews revealed that the central theme for program development was “a blend of factors,” depicted as the incorporation of many factors in the planning process. The central theme for program implementation was “a linking process ,” depicted as connecting sets of factors where each has the potential to affect the implementation process. Recommendations for action and further research are presented.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access