Introduction Corrections officers in state and federal prisons are faced with physical and psychosocial work demands that create challenges for maintaining high levels of workability, health and personal well-being. Furthermore, features of correctional work design, including around-the-clock operations and routine pressure to participate in overtime work may have additional consequences for health and retention of an ageing correctional workforce. In this study, we examined the implications of shift work and extended work hours for officers’ ability to maintain workability, health, and well-being in the face of stressful work demands, with attention focused on officer age (chronological age and psychological age) as a risk variable for increased negative outcomes.
Methods As part of a Total Worker Health intervention study, corrections officers at a state correctional system in the northeastern USA participated in Wave 1 (n=335) or Wave 2 (n=260) of a survey that assessed physical and psychosocial work demands, work schedules, and several aspects of personal health and well-being. ANCOVA and moderated multiple regression analyses were used to examine the interactive effects of work schedule and age on relationships between work demands and worker health and well-being. An additional data collection in the same correctional system has recently been completed and will form the basis for follow-up analyses.
Results Initial findings indicate that corrections officers in this sample are at risk of several negative physical and mental health outcomes (e.g., obesity, depressive symptoms, burnout). Psychosocial features of corrections work, including work schedules, interacted with correctional officer age, with stronger negative consequences for several aspects of personal health and well-being among chronologically and psychologically older officers.
Conclusion In the face of an ageing corrections workforce, our findings suggest that particular attention should be paid to interventions that mitigate the impact of nightwork and overtime on the health and well-being of older officers.
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