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Shift Work and Correctional Officers: Effects and Strategies for Adjustment

NCJ Number
Journal of Correctional Health Care Volume: 14 Issue: 4 Dated: October 2008 Pages: 299-310
David X. Swenson Ph.D., LP; Daniel Waseleski M.A.; Robert Hartl M.A.
Date Published
October 2008
12 pages
This article examines the challenges and effects of shift work required by correctional officers and the strategies utilized in their adjustment to shift work.
Shift work requires correctional officers to work when they would otherwise be asleep and disrupts the biological clock. This disruption can have adverse effects on cognitive, emotional, and motor functioning. Attention, vigilance, concentration, memory, mood, and reaction time can be significantly impaired because of fatigue. Awareness of the risks and complications of shift-related fatigue enables departments to apply effective countermeasures to reduce the impact of such effects. Organizations can minimize adverse shift work effects through forward rotations, rapid or long rotations, advance scheduling, sufficient time off between shifts for recovery, policies that limit overtime, and a well-lit environment with healthy food and activity equipment. The officer’s shift adjustment at home can be facilitated by posting schedules, using good sleep habits, and avoiding excessive use of problematic coping methods such as alcohol, stimulants, and medications. The growth of the corrections industry, nature of the work, and required 24/7 coverage create unique challenges for staff coverage. This article discusses the impact of shift work and the strategies for adjustment to shift work for correctional officers. References