The effect of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on aggressive behaviour in adult male prisoners: a structured study protocol for a multi-centre, double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled trial and translation into policy and practice

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Background: Interventions to better manage aggressive behaviour and reduce recidivism are a primary concern for corrective services. Nutritional interventions to correct prisoner behaviour have been largely overlooked in the literature. Emerging evidence suggests that dietary intake influences aggressive behaviours and that nutritional supplementation with omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFA) could attenuate both the severity and frequency of aggressive behaviour. Methods: Adult male prisoners who have a history of aggressive behaviour (n = 600) will be recruited from at least 6 Correctional Centres and randomised to receive either n-3 LCPUFA or placebo supplementation for a 16-week duration. Treatment will be with either 1 g/day of n-3 LCPUFA (694 mg DHA and 397 mg EPA) or placebo capsules, which are a corn/soy oil blend and are identical in size and colour. The primary outcome measure is the Inmate Behavioural Observation Scale (IBOS): an objective measure of aggressive behaviour. Secondary outcome measures include questionnaires (including aggression, attention deficit disorder, impulsivity, depression/anxiety/stress scales), engagement in programmes, recidivism and quality of life. Baseline and post-intervention assessments include the IBOS, questionnaires and blood to measure the levels of n-3 LCPUFA. Discussion: To conclusively test the potential that increasing n-3 LCPUFA intakes can improve rates of prisoner aggression and associated mental health and violence-related social system management costs, we propose an adequately powered multi-centre, double-blind, randomised controlled trial, examining the effects of n-3 LCPUFA supplementation on aggressive behaviour in adult male prisoners. If successful, this study will inform prisoner policy with respect to nutrition and by inference contribute to a broader community approach to preventative mental health practices. Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry (ANZCTR) ACTRN12618001665224. Registered on 10 October 2018.

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National Health and Medical Research Council



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