Mazen El Ghaziri, PhD, MPH, RN, Assistant Professor & Associate Chair, UMass Lowell, SOLOMONT SCHOOL OF NURSING, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences -Lisa Jaegers,, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Associate Professor, Saint Louis University, Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Doisy College of Health Sciences, School of Social Work, College for Public Health and Social Justice, Director, Transformative Justice Initiative & OT Transition and Integration Services Associate Director, Health Criminology Research Consortium -Pamela Fallon, APRN-BC, COHN-S, Adjunct Instructor, UMass Lowell, SOLOMONT SCHOOL OF NURSING -Natalie Schur, B.S. Occupational Science, Saint Louis University, Doisy College of Health Sciences -Martin Cherniack, MD, MPH, Professor of Occupational Medicine at UConn Health, Co-Director the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW)
The purpose of this project is identify current and best practices and innovative solutions to reduce correctional staff trauma and organizational stress.
Correctional officers (COs) serving jails and prisons evidence mental health-related risks including stress, burnout and psychological distress from traumatic events experienced on the job. The literature suggests a variety of ways to provide COs with ways to reduce severe distress from staff trauma, stress, and fatigue, including referrals to mental health providers, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), peer counseling and support groups, and critical incident stress reduction units for corrections officers who have experience traumatic events on the job. There is a disconnect, however, between the idea behind offering such referrals and services and the actual effectiveness, utilization, and usefulness of such programs, and the acceptance of such programs within the corrections community.
A national participatory effort, through the National Corrections Collaborative (NCC), among jail and prison professionals, organizations, and researchers involves seeking interventions to address mental health-related risks including stress, burnout and psychological distress from job-related traumatic events. In the first phase of the project, a scoping review was conducted using 5 databases for CO trauma and stress interventions. We included intervention studies published in the last 20 years, that addressed correctional officer health, and were completed in any country.
The first phase of the project involved a scoping review of 1283 studies, only 13 met trauma intervention criteria. Types of interventions represented in the final studies included: needs assessment (n=3), participatory engagement (n=3), organizational management approaches (n=1), mental health and mentoring training (n=2), stress reduction techniques (n=3), and weight loss program (n=1).
More research is needed to evaluate existing practices to address trauma and stress in criminal justice facilities
In the next phase of this project, the team will further explore the needs for evaluating existing practices to address trauma and stress in criminal justice facilities nationally using surveys and interviews to better inform training resources on address trauma and stress in corrections.