Corrections Fatigue Model

DWCO Research

DWCO Foundational and Occupation-Specific Research Studies

Click on an image to download the respective full-text article.


Prevalence of Trauma-related Health Conditions in Correctional Officers:
A Profile of Michigan Corrections Organization Members
(Posted with permission)By Michael D. Denhof, PhD and Caterina G. Spinaris, PhD
View Abstract
The purpose of this study was to estimate prevalence rates for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and comorbid PTSD/depression in corrections professionals, and to explore the relationship between particular disorder conditions and a variety of variables including job type and numerous indices of health, well-being, and life functioning (e.g., number of doctor visits, number of absences from work, extent of substance use, satisfaction with life, job functioning, and other variables). A large number of continuous and dichotomous variables were also assessed for their ability to replicate diagnoses and classifications of PTSD, depression, and comorbid PTSD/depression coming from established clinical assessment and screening tools. Using a secure online application, a nationwide sample of corrections professionals (N=3599) completed the PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C), the Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21), the Impact on Functioning Scale (IOFS), and the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS). Participants responded to additional questions indicating the degree to which they witnessed or experienced a variety of types of workplace violence, injury and death (VID) events and related emotions, and whether and/or the degree to which they experienced various health-related conditions, behaviors, and functional impairments. Results indicated rates of depression, PTSD, and comorbid PTSD/depression that far exceed general population rates. Males and individuals in security/custody roles demonstrated the highest disorder rates. The condition of Comorbid PTSD/depression demonstrated a particularly strong relationship to worse outcomes and statuses on a large number of variables reflecting health and functioning. Parsimonious sets of public domain assessment items were identified that offer promise as screening items for determining the prevalence of common disorder conditions in corrections professional populations. Implications are discussed in relation to the need for, and best focus of, systemic assessment and interventions in correctional environments and in regard to the need for improvement of corrections employee health and functioning.

Occupational Stressors in Corrections Organizations: Types, Effects, and Solutions
By Michael D. Denhof, PhD, Caterina G. Spinaris, PhD, and Gregory R. Morton, B.A.
View Annotation
“The primary goal of corrections work is the safe and secure management and rehabilitation of justice-involved individuals, whether in locked facilities or within community supervision programs. Pursuit of this goal comes with demanding requirements such as the necessity of staff to maintain constant heightened vigilance while they work and also adhere to strict security protocols. In addition, corrections staff must perform their duties within harsh physical environments and with repeated exposure to violence, injury, and death events. Data supports a health and functioning toll of corrections work that must be not only endured but overcome if corrections staff are to perform optimally over time and if staff are to develop a sense of job-related success, pride, meaning, and professional fulfillment. Meeting and overcoming the occupation-specific challenges of corrections work will, by necessity, require an accurate and specific understanding of the converging forces impinging on staff’s health and functioning, how these manifest, and how they can be deterred. This paper presents an evidence-supported model and framework for the comprehensive understanding of occupational threats to corrections workplace health and functioning as well as a data-driven and evidence-based strategy for addressing them” (p. 1). Sections of this paper include: types of stressors in corrections environments; direct and indirect traumatic exposure; use of varying terminology in the literature regarding traumatic exposure; types of corrections fatigue components; interacting components; a six-stage model for addressing corrections fatigue; and summary. 

Depression, PTSD, and Comorbidity in United States Corrections
Professionals: Prevalence and Impact on Health and Functioning
By Michael D. Denhof, PhD and Caterina G. Spinaris, PhD
View Abstract
The purpose of this study was to estimate prevalence rates for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and comorbid PTSD/depression in corrections professionals, and to explore the relationship between particular disorder conditions and a variety of variables including job type and numerous indices of health, well-being, and life functioning (e.g., number of doctor visits, number of absences from work, extent of substance use, satisfaction with life, job functioning, and other variables). A large number of continuous and dichotomous variables were also assessed for their ability to replicate diagnoses and classifications of PTSD, depression, and comorbid PTSD/depression coming from established clinical assessment and screening tools. Using a secure online application, a nationwide sample of corrections professionals (N=3599) completed the PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C), the Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21), the Impact on Functioning Scale (IOFS), and the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS). Participants responded to additional questions indicating the degree to which they witnessed or experienced a variety of types of workplace violence, injury and death (VID) events and related emotions, and whether and/or the degree to which they experienced various health-related conditions, behaviors, and functional impairments. Results indicated rates of depression, PTSD, and comorbid PTSD/depression that far exceed general population rates. Males and individuals in security/custody roles demonstrated the highest disorder rates. The condition of Comorbid PTSD/depression demonstrated a particularly strong relationship to worse outcomes and statuses on a large number of variables reflecting health and functioning. Parsimonious sets of public domain assessment items were identified that offer promise as screening items for determining the prevalence of common disorder conditions in corrections professional populations. Implications are discussed in relation to the need for, and best focus of, systemic assessment and interventions in correctional environments and in regard to the need for improvement of corrections employee health and functioning.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in United States Corrections
Professionals: Prevalence and Impact on Health and Functioning
By Caterina G. Spinaris, PhD, Michael D. Denhof, PhD, and Julie A. Kellaway, PhD
View Abstract
The purpose of this study was to estimate current posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) prevalence rates among United States’ corrections professionals, and explore indices of psychological, physical, and occupational status and functioning in relation to PTSD. Using a secure online application, a nationwide sample of corrections professionals (N=3599) completed the PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C), the Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21), the Impact on Functioning Scale (IOFS), and the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS). Participants responded to questions indicating the degree to which they witnessed or experienced incidents of workplace violence, injury and death (VID) and related emotions. Participants also responded to questions about health-related behaviors and conditions, and functioning. Results indicated an overall PTSD prevalence rate of 27% for symptoms experienced over the past 30 days. Analysis of subgroups indicated that males and security/custody personnel had significantly higher PTSD rates than females and non-security staff, respectively. In reference to the entire sample, PTSD-positive participants reported significantly 1) more exposure to workplace VID and negative VID-related emotions, 2) higher levels of depression, anxiety, and stress, 3) more absenteeism, health services utilization, health conditions, and substance use, and 4) lower levels of pro-health behaviors, life functioning, and life satisfaction. Implications and future areas of research are discussed.