Preparing to Die Behind Bars: The Journey of Male Inmates With Terminal Health Conditions

Sara Sanders, Meredith Stensland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The prison population is graying as more individuals are receiving longer sentences without opportunities for parole or release for health-related reasons. While research has expanded on end-of-life care in and out of prison settings, to date there has been little research conducted on how inmates experience dying behind bars. Through collecting data during observation of facilitated advance care planning sessions, this qualitative study revealed four main themes: (1) losing a piece of everything, (2) not sure what to feel, (3) where will I die, and (4) finding purpose in the midst of purposelessness. These themes characterize the central issues discussed by inmates as they considered death behind bars. As we seek to improve health care in prison settings, this study provides insight into how inmates view their dying process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-242
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Correctional Health Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • end-of-life care
  • health care
  • inmates
  • prisons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Preparing to Die Behind Bars: The Journey of Male Inmates With Terminal Health Conditions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this