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Occupational Stressors in Corrections Work Annotated Bibliography

"Corrections work of all disciplines, whether in institutional or in community-based settings, has been recognized as being exceptionally stressful. Traditionally, this has been regarded as a consequence of staff’s exposure to multiple organizational stressors and also operational stressors. Examples of organizational stressors are role problems, demanding interactions with other staff or justice-involved individuals, and low organizational support. Examples of operational stressors are shift work, high workloads, and mandatory overtime.

The effects of these types of stressors have also been thought to result in “burnout.” "Recently, a more insidious source of occupational stress has been recognized in the corrections profession-that of exposure to potentially traumatic events and material. Such exposure can be direct (first hand), such as while responding in person to incidents of violence, injury or death, or being assaulted on the job. Traumatic exposure can also be indirect (second hand), such as while hearing about or viewing videos of critical incidents or reading presentencing investigation reports.

"This annotated bibliography was developed in an effort to provide current and useful information to corrections professionals regarding possible effects of traumatic and other high-stress exposure on staff health and wellness. In addition to literature on traumatic stress in corrections, research on organizational stress, operational stress and burnout in corrections is included. The reason for this is that exposure to traumatic stress frequently co-occurs with operational and organizational stressors, and contributes to the overall outcome of traumatization and burnout. Non-corrections literature is referenced on the subject of psychological trauma and resilience in the general population and in other high-risk occupations to provide a context for and meaningful comparisons with the corrections-related findings" (p. x).

Seventy-seven (77) citations are organized into the following sections:

  • Occupational Traumatic Exposure of Corrections Professionals;
  • Depression in Corrections Professionals;
  • Corrections Officer Suicide;
  • Health Issues of Corrections Professionals;
  • Operational Stress, Organizational Stress, and Burnout in Corrections Professionals;
  • Traumatic Stress and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder;
  • Traumatic Stress and PTSD in High-trauma Occupations;
  • Secondary Traumatic Stress/Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma; Burnout;
  • and Resilience.