Credit points


Campus offering

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NRSG524 Advanced Pathophysiology for Specialty Nursing Practice AND NRSG525 Evidence-based, Person-centred Family Care in Specialty Nursing Practice

Unit rationale, description and aim

Chronic conditions are common to Australians, and in prison populations many conditions are seen at increased rates. Universal humanitarian policies mandate that prisoners are afforded access to healthcare provisions that equal community quality, and that this access occurs in a timely manner. The role of the custodial nurse requires a specialised set of skills that include recognition, assessment, and treatment of chronic conditions within a secure setting. This unit will focus on the recognition, treatment and prevention of chronic conditions that are identified as priority areas of need in Australian prison populations. This includes illness caused through intravenous drug use (such as Hepatitis C) and chronic health conditions (such as arthritis, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes). Sexually transmissible infections (STIs) will also be covered.

Minority prisoner groups have additional needs that warrant specialised education and healthcare. Whilst Indigenous Australians comprise only a fraction of Australia’s population, they are disproportionally overrepresented in incarceration rates, and have additional and oftentimes, complex healthcare needs. Similarly women in custody also pose additional challenges for custodial care nurses, including pregnancy and female sexual health issues. In addition to specific population healthcare needs, all prisoners may also sustain injuries or experience poor dental health whilst in custody that require health care. People who are incarcerated are also more vulnerable to intentional injuries and traumas, such as sexual and physical assault.

The aim of this unit is to prepare students to provide culturally safe, specialised nursing that addresses the specialised needs of prisoners within a secure environment.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Critically analyse the prevalence of chronic conditions in prison populations, and ultiise a range of resources to explore targeted health promotion and education on disease prevention (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9)

LO2 - Analyse the chronic health conditions that are common to Australian prisoners, and consider the different modalities of treatment and strategies to prevent further harm (GA4, GA5, GA8)

LO3 - Ultiising a culturally sensitive approach, evaluate the specific healthcare needs that are present in vulnerable prisoner populations (including Indigenous Australians and females) (GA1, GA3, GA7)

LO4 - Critically reflect on the logistical and procedural challenges that correctional nurses face when treating chronic conditions in a secure setting, and consider strategies for managing healthcare in this environment (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA6)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include:

The Physical Health of Australian Prisoners

  • Overview of the healthcare needs of Australian prisoners
  • Chronic conditions understood to be priority areas for prisoners such as arthritis, disability, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes
  • Dental healthcare needs of prisoners
  • Consequences of accelerated ageing

Communicable Diseases 

  • Sexually transmissible infections
  • Blood-borne viruses such as Hepatitis C, and management and additional measures required to prevent infection  

Chronic Conditions and Treatments in Prisoner Populations

  • Explore treatment options within the correctional context for chronic illness
  • Practicing health promotion and disease prevention education
  • Palliation and palliative care pathways
  • Pain management and chronic conditions

Minority/Vulnerable Groups in Prisoner Populations

  • Overview of vulnerable prisoner groups and their health needs
  • Indigenous Australian prisoner health
  • Cultural considerations and cultural safely
  • The health needs of female prisoners
  • Deaths in custody
  • Physical and sexual assault in prison and risky sexual behaviours

Healthcare Management in a Correctional Setting

  • Function of health care provisions in correctional settings
  • Prison health clinics
  • Management of chronic conditions 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress.

Student will engage in topic modules, supported by guided reading, self-directed learning and participate in webinars with their peers. Students will have the opportunity to discuss and reflect on the physical healthcare needs of Australian prisoners, whilst considering how they may influence healthcare practices in a correctional health setting. This unit will explore the role of health promotion in disease prevention, and utilise evidence-based practices in the recognition and treatment of chronic illness. Consideration will also be given to minority populations within correctional health, that are understood to have additional healthcare needs. Underpinning these concepts is the provision, feasibility and management of healthcare services within the correctional health setting. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy used allows for the progressive development of knowledge and skills necessary for the student to be able to demonstrate ethical and effective professional practice in the delivery of healthcare within a correctional setting.

In order to effectively and safely implement nursing care into professional practice, the student must first demonstrate a sound understanding of the evidence underpinning identification, treatment and prevention of chronic health conditions. Students will be further supported to demonstrate their understanding of the additional needs of prisoners from minority populations, whilst adopting culturally safe practices when appropriate through an oral presentation to their peers. Finally, students will critically reflect on the application of a health promotion program providing workplace relevance and significance. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written Assessment

Enables students to demonstrate their understating of a chronic healthcare issue relevant to prison populations, and explore the challenges of responding in the correctional environment.


LO2, LO4

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8

Critical Reflective Essay

Students will critically evaluate an existing (or proposed) health promotion program for a condition studied in this unit, that could be implemented in a correctional health setting.


LO1, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019). The health of Australia’s prisoners 2018. Cat. no. PHE 246. Canberra: AIHW

Biles, B. & Biles, J. (2019). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing, Australia: Oxford.

Chang, E. & Johnson, A. (2017) Living with chronic illness and disability: Principles of nursing practice, Elsevier.

Commonwealth of Australia. (2013). National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health plan 2013-2023, Australian Government. Retrieved from

Deravin, L. & Anderson, J. (2019) Chronic care nursing: A framework for practice 2nd ed, Great Britain: Cambridge University Press

Dudgeon, P., Milroy, H., & Walker, R., Calma, T. (2014). Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practice. (2nd ed.)

Hampton, R. & Toombs, M. (2013). Indigenous Australians and Health – The Wombat in the Room. Australia: Oxford.

Schoenly, L. & Knox, C.M. (2012). Essentials of correctional nursing, Springer Publishing Company.

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