Impact of Holyoake’s DRUMBEAT Programme
25 April 2015
By Karen Martin, Lisa Wood, Jenny Tasker and Catherine Coletsis
University of Western Australia, January, 2014
DRUMBEAT (Discovering Relationships Using Music – Beliefs, Emotions, Attitudes and Thoughts) is an evidence-based intervention developed by the Holyoake Institute to improve mental, social and emotional wellbeing in high-risk populations. This report discusses the research on the DRUMBEAT programmes in seven Western Australian prisons: for example, Bunbury Prison, a maximum security prison for men, 183km from Perth.
The research of 21 DRUMBEAT programmes was conducted over nine months between November 2012 and July 2013. A range of methods were used to evaluate a series of DRUMBEAT programmes. This included prisoner surveys and semi-structured interviews with prisoners, prison staff and the DRUMBEAT facilitators.
Overall, it involved 210 prisoners in activities of hand drumming and discussions. At the end of the ten weeks the group did a drumming performance to invited members of the public.
The main aim of this evaluation project was to investigate the effectiveness of the DRUMBEAT programme in assisting prisoners to improve their mental wellbeing and resilience, interpersonal relationships and skills, and self-esteem.
The secondary aim of the project was to develop and trial a comprehensive set of prison evaluation tools for programmes that target mental wellbeing.
The programme and evaluation have come with challenges: for example, prison staff not being properly informed of the programme and therefore not encouraging attendance. The issue of poor literacy and comprehension of the written questionnaires also became evident.
The overall outcomes for the prisoners were positive. Nearly all of the prisoners reported enjoying the DRUMBEAT programme and indicated they would convey lessons of positive relationships to other prisoners, friends and/or family members.
The survey and qualitative data indicated DRUMBEAT improved prisoners’ mental wellbeing, relieved psychological distress and improved resilience. In addition, it enhanced their:
- emotions and emotional regulation
- positive feelings
- self-confidence and social skills
- relationship-building abilities
- learning about themselves
- emotional barriers, connecting with others and forming friendships, and behaviour
- feeling part of a team.
The results indicate that prisoner engagement in the programme was enhanced by DRUMBEAT’s use of drumming, music and analogies to the rhythms of life.
The evaluation indicates it is an effective programme for improving prisoner’s wellbeing in the immediate and longer term, and suggests there is an ongoing need for support and funding of programmes like DRUMBEAT in the prison system.