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Causes of Correctional Officer Stress and Its Consequences

NCJ Number
William Daniel McCarthy
Date Published
May 2012
175 pages
Factors that contribute to correctional officer stress are identified, and ways that correctional agencies can assist in reducing this stress are discussed.
Using the Occupational Research Questionnaire (ORQ), the most frequently mentioned stressors were insufficient salaries and overtime demands. Other stressors identified were shift work, the risk of being injured, insufficient time with family, work overload and work under-load, role conflict, lack of administrative support, lack of proper training, lack of participation in decisionmaking, little job satisfaction, interaction with inmates, crisis situations, role ambiguity, and immediate supervisor. The most popular ways of coping were exercising, seeking religion, support from family, and participation in social activities. A number of other ways of coping with stress were identified with the Carver COPE tool. They included getting rid of the problem; expressing frustration and dissatisfaction; being patient and not over-reacting; living with emotional stress; use of alcohol, smoking or other drug use; viewing the situation from a more positive perspective; becoming critical of oneself or others; and seeking escape through television and movies, sleep, or reading; and meditation.