OUR RESEARCH


Central to our approach at Breaking Free Group is the systematic research and evaluation we undertake in collaboration with colleagues at academic institutions including the University of Manchester, King’s College London, Keele University, Carleton University (Ottawa) and the Center for the Study of Addictions and Recovery (New York).

This research is guided by the UK Medical Research Council’s framework for developing and evaluating complex healthcare interventions. As well as demonstrating the clinical effectiveness of our interventions, it includes studies that explore their mechanisms of action and explain the behavioural science that underpins them.

Beyond this, however, we seek to inform the wider digital health community by examining the processes involved in implementing and diffusing digital interventions in real-world settings and identifying the most effective ways to drive adoption.

We are committed to disseminating the findings of our research by publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presenting at leading conferences, including those of the King’s Fund, UCL Centre for Behaviour Change, Society for the Study of Addictions, and International Corrections and Prisons Association.

Below is a list of our publications in British, American, Canadian and Australian journals, with links to the abstracts. To request any of these papers or discuss potential research collaboration, please contact Dr Sarah Elison-Davies (Research Director):


OUR LATEST PUBLICATION


The role of technology in offender rehabilitation

Elison-Davies, S., Davies, G., Ward, J., Dugdale, S., & Weekes, J.

Breaking Free Group’s most recent paper, co-authored with Professor John Weekes (Carleton University, Ottawa), is a commentary paper published in the Canadian journal Advancing Corrections, which discusses the increasing importance of digital technologies in offender rehabilitation. 

With the increasing prevalence of prison self-service kiosks and in-cell technologies that can give offenders greater control over their lives during their sentence, these technologies are rapidly changing the criminal justice system. 

This paper also discusses how digital technologies are increasing access to evidence-based interventions that empower offenders to address difficulties that often underpin their offending – including interventions for violent behaviour, thinking skills programmes and interventions for health-related issues, such as Breaking Free from Substance Use and Breaking Free from Smoking. 

Although these advancements in rehabilitation technologies provide much cause for optimism, the paper discusses the barriers to their widespread implementation, such as funding, infrastructure and staffing, concerns about security and safety, and anxieties among both criminal justice professionals and the public.

Despite these barriers, the paper sets out a vision for how new digital technologies can transform the criminal justice system; and suggests some solutions to how barriers to this transformation might be overcome.

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Davies, G., Elison, S., Ward, J., & Laudet, A. (2015). The role of lifestyle in perpetuating substance dependence: A new explanatory model, The Lifestyle Balance Model. Substance Abuse, Treatment, Prevention and Policy, 10(2).

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Davies, G., Ward, J., Elison, S., Weston, S., Dugdale, S., & Weekes, J. (2017). Implementation and evaluation of the Breaking Free Online and Pillars of Recovery treatment and recovery programmes for substance-involved offenders: Reflections from the North-West Prisons ‘Gateways’ pathfinder. Advancing Corrections, (3), 95-113.

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Dugdale, S. (2016). Reflections on using online qualitative interviews for data collection. Qualitative Methods in Psychology Bulletin, (21), 27-32.

Dugdale, S. (2018). The development of a group smoking cessation intervention for offenders. Health Psychology Update, 26(1).

Dugdale, S., Elison, S., Davies, G., & Ward, J. (2017a). Applying behaviour change theories and qualitative methods in substance misuse implementation research: Conceptualising the adoption of Breaking Free Online in real world clinical practice. Qualitative Health Research, 27(7), 1049-1059.

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Dugdale, S., Elison, S., Davies, G., Ward, J., & Dalton, M. (2017b). A qualitative study investigating the continued adoption of Breaking Free Online across a national substance misuse organisation: Theoretical conceptualisation of staff perceptions. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research, 44(1), 89-101.

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Dugdale, S., Elison, S., Davies, G., Ward, J., & Jones, M. (2016a). The use of digital technology in substance misuse recovery. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 10(4), Article 5.

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Dugdale, S., Elison-Davies, S., Davies, G., Ward, J., & Jones, M. (2018). An exploration of lived experience in a digital world. In C. Costa & J. Condie (Eds.), Doing Research In and On the Digital: Research Methods across Fields of Inquiry. Abingdon: Routledge.

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Dugdale, S., Elison, S., Ward, J., Davies, G., & Dalton, M. (2016b). Using the Transtheoretical Model to explore the impact of peer mentoring on peer mentors’ own recovery from substance misuse. Journal of Groups in Addiction and Recovery, 11(3), 166-181.

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Dugdale, S., Ward, J., Elison-Davies, S., Davies, G. & Brown, E. (2018). Breaking Free from Smoking: A novel digital smoking cessation intervention for offenders in UK prisons. Journal of Smoking Cessation, early online.

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Dugdale, S., Ward, J., Hernen, J., Elison, S., Davies, G., & Donkor, D. (2016c). Using the Behavior Change Technique Taxonomy v1 to conceptualize the clinical content of Breaking Free Online: a computer-assisted therapy program for substance use disorders. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 11(1), 26.

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Easton, S. (2014). Community Learning and Digital Inclusion. National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. Skills Funding Agency, Case Study 1

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Elison, S., Davies, G., & Ward, J. (2015a). An outcomes evaluation of computerised treatment for problem drinking using Breaking Free Online. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 33(2), 185-196.

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Elison, S., Davies, G., & Ward, J. (2015b). Sub-group analyses of a heterogeneous sample of service users accessing computer-assisted therapy (CAT) for substance dependence using Breaking Free Online. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2(2), e13.

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Elison, S., Davies, G., & Ward, J. (2016a). Initial development and psychometric properties of a new measure of substance misuse ‘recovery progression’: The Recovery Progression Measure (RPM). Substance Use and Misuse, 51(9), 1195-1206.

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Elison, S., Davies, G., Ward, J., Weston, S., Dugdale, S., & Weekes, J. (2017a). Using the “recovery” and “rehabilitation” paradigms to support desistance of substance-involved offenders: exploration of dual and multi-focus interventions. Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, 2(4), 274-290.

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Elison-Davies, S., Davies, G., Ward, J., Dugdale, S., & Weekes, J. (2018). The role of technology in offender rehabilitation. Advancing Corrections, 5, 104-116.

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Elison, S., Humphreys, L., Ward, J., & Davies, G. (2013). A pilot outcomes evaluation for computer-assisted therapy for substance misuse: an evaluation of Breaking Free Online. Journal of Substance Use, 19(4), 1-6.

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Elison, S., Jones, A., Ward, J., Davies, G., & Dugdale, S. (2017b). Examining effectiveness of tailorable computer-assisted therapy programmes for substance misuse: Programme usage and clinical outcomes data from Breaking Free Online. Addictive Behaviors, 74, 140-147.

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Elison, S., Ward, J., Davies, G., Lidbetter, N., Dagley, M., & Hulme, D. (2014a). An outcomes study of eTherapy for dual diagnosis using Breaking Free Online. Advances in Dual Diagnosis, 7(2), 52-62.

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Elison, S., Ward, J., Davies, G., & Moody, M. (2014b). Implementation of computer-assisted therapy for substance misuse: a qualitative study of Breaking Free Online using Roger's diffusion of innovation theory. Drugs and Alcohol Today, 14(4), 207-218.

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Elison, S., Ward, J., Dugdale, S., & Davies, G. (2017c). The ‘Rapid Recovery Progression Measure’ (Rapid-RPM): a brief assessment of psychosocial functioning change during problematic substance use recovery progression. Substance Use and Misuse, 52(9), 1160-1169.

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Elison, S., Ward, J., Williams, C., Espie, C., Davies, G., Dugdale, S., Ragan, K., Chisnall, L., Lidbetter, N., & Smith, K. (2017d). An outcomes evaluation of the implementation of ‘Living Life to the Full Interactive’, ‘Sleepio’ and ‘Breaking Free Online’ at an innovative eTherapy service, ‘Self-Help Services’. British Medical Journal - Open, 7(7), 1-10.

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Elison, S., Weston, S., Davies, G., Dugdale, S., & Ward, J. (2015c). Findings from mixed-methods feasibility and effectiveness evaluations of the “Breaking Free Online” treatment and recovery programme for substance misuse in prisons. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 23(2), 1-10.

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Elison, S., Weston, S., Dugdale, S., Ward, J., & Davies, G. (2016b). A qualitative exploration of UK prisoners’ experiences of substance misuse and mental health difficulties, and the Breaking Free Health and Justice interventions. Journal of Drug Issues, 46(3), 198-215.

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Hogan, L., Elison, S., Davies, G., & Ward, J. (2015). Effectiveness of the Pillars of Recovery group and keyworking program for service users with a dual diagnosis of substance dependence and concurrent mental health problems: An initial outcomes evaluation. Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery, 10(2), 125-140.

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Neale, J., & Stevenson, C. (2013). The use of computer assisted therapy by homeless drug users living in hostels: An explorative qualitative study. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 21(1), 80-87.

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Ward, J. (2016). Making Transforming Rehabilitation a reality: The role of technology innovation. Criminal Law and Justice Weekly, 180(3), 4-5.

Ward, J., Davies, G., Dugdale, S., Elison, S., & Bijral, P. (2017). Achieving digital health sustainability: Breaking Free and CGL. International Journal of Health Governance, 22(2), 72-82.

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Weekes, J., Elison, S., De Moor, C., & de Loe, K. (2017). Technology-enhanced innovations for addressing substance-misusing offenders' treatment needs. In J. Ireland, C. Ireland, M. Fisher, & N. Gredecki (Eds.), The Routledge International Handbook of Forensic Psychology in Secure Settings. London: Routledge.

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