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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Job Burnout Among Jail Officers

Jaegers, Lisa A., PhD; Matthieu, Monica M., PhD; Vaughn, Michael G., PhD; Werth, Paul, MS; Katz, Ian M., MS; Ahmad, Syed Omar, PhD

The aim of this study was to explore posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom prevalence and health characteristics among jail correctional officers, a generally understudied population of public safety workers.

Officers employed in jails, short-term correctional facilities with high resident turnover, work in conditions with high exposure to critical incidents and workplace stressors. Jail officers are at high risk for fatal and nonfatal inmate-to-staff and inmate-to-inmate violent incidents, including criminality, gang activity, contraband, manipulation, and rape that contribute to sustained periods of alertness or hypervigilance. Common organizational stressors include inadequate training, low staffing, overtime, poor leadership, and excessive punitive discipline. Although posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been highlighted among prison officers, little research has been undertaken among this more narrow population of jail correctional officers as a consequence of their particular work setting.