Nav: Home

PTSD rate among prison employees equals that of war veterans

July 13, 2018

Prison employees experience PTSD on par with Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, a new study from a Washington State University College of Nursing researcher found.

Working conditions in a prison can include regular exposure to violence and trauma, and threats of harm to the workers and their families. Previous studies have shown that prison workers have some of the highest rates of mental illness, sleep disorders and physical health issues of all U.S. workers. But the rate of PTSD among prison workers isn't well understood.

The new study, "Prison employment and post-traumatic stress disorder: Risk and protective factors," was conducted by lead investigator Lois James, Ph.D., assistant professor at the WSU College of Nursing, and co-investigator Natalie Todak, assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

It recently was published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine and excerpted in Force Science News.

"Prison employees can face some of the toughest working conditions of U.S. workers," said James, "yet limited evidence exists on the specific risk and protective factors to inform targeted interventions."

Among the study's findings:
  • Prison employees work under an almost constant state of threat to their personal safety, and about a quarter of them routinely experience serious threats to themselves or their families.

  • Almost half have witnessed co-workers being seriously injured by inmates.

  • More than half have seen an inmate die or have encountered an inmate who recently died.

  • The vast majority have dealt with inmates who were recently beaten and/or sexually assaulted.
PTSD rates were higher among women, black employees, and employees with more than 10 years of experience. PTSD scores, using criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, didn't differ based on where the employee worked, such as a minimum versus maximum security facility.

James and Todak note that the research included a small sample of 355 employees of one labor union at the Washington State Department of Corrections, and recommended further study of the issue.

Still, they said their findings suggest the corrections profession could benefit from specific training to promote resilience. They also said issues common to nearly every workplace also can protect prison employees from PTSD, such as having good relationships with supervisors and coworkers, and liking their work assignments.
-end-


Washington State University

Related Ptsd Articles:

Reckless behavior fuels ongoing stress for some with PTSD
Veterans Affairs researchers found that for those with posttraumatic stress disorder, risky and harmful behaviors could lead to more trauma and, in turn, worse PSTD symptoms over time.
Veterans with PTSD have an increased 'fight or flight' response
Young veterans with combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have an increased 'fight or flight' response during mental stress, according to new findings published this week in The Journal of Physiology.
PTSD, certain prescriptions for PTSD may raise risk for dementia
Until now, researchers didn't know whether the kinds of medications used for people with PTSD could increase risks for dementia.
Common antibiotic may help to prevent or treat PTSD
The common antibiotic doxycycline can disrupt the formation of negative associations in the brain, according to new research from UCL and the University of Zurich.
Refugees with PTSD regulate stress differently
New Michigan State University research has found that refugees diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder regulate stress differently than those who don't have the disorder, but may have experienced similar suffering.
PTSD symptoms may be prevented with ketamine
Columbia University researchers have evidence that giving a small dose of ketamine one week before a psychologically traumatic event may help prevent PTSD.
Parents of children with serious heart defects may be at risk of PTSD
Many parents -- particularly mothers -- of children born with serious heart defects have symptoms of post-traumatic stress, anxiety or depression.
Study reveals areas of the brain impacted by PTSD
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine and the VA Boston Healthcare System are one step closer to understanding the specific nature of brain changes associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Shooting, gang violence exposure leads to PTSD
The violence that women in disadvantaged neighborhoods experience and witness can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and full diagnoses, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study that examined a disadvantaged Chicago neighborhood.
Neuroscientist studies connection between PTSD and alcohol abuse
MUSC Psychologist Justin Gass believes repeated alcohol exposure stregthens the connections between neurons in the brain responsible for storing traumatic memories.

Related Ptsd Reading:

The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms
by Mary Beth Williams PhD LCSW CTS (Author), Soili Poijula PhD (Author)

The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control and Becoming Whole
by Arielle Schwartz PhD (Author), Jim Knipe PhD (Foreword)

Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: A Guide and Map for Recovering from Childhood Trauma
by Pete Walker (Author)

When Someone You Love Suffers from Posttraumatic Stress: What to Expect and What You Can Do
by Claudia Zayfert (Author), Jason C. DeViva (Author)

Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD: A Comprehensive Manual
by Patricia A. Resick (Author), Candice M. Monson (Author), Kathleen M. Chard (Author)

The Cognitive Behavioral Coping Skills Workbook for PTSD: Overcome Fear and Anxiety and Reclaim Your Life
by Matthew T Tull PhD (Author), Kim L. Gratz PhD (Author), Alexander L. Chapman PhD RPsych (Author)

Loving Someone with PTSD: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Connecting with Your Partner after Trauma (The New Harbinger Loving Someone Series)
by Aphrodite T. Matsakis PhD (Author)

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
by Penguin Books

Seeking Safety: A Treatment Manual for PTSD and Substance Abuse (The Guilford Substance Abuse Series)
by Lisa M. Najavits (Author)

Behavioral Activation for PTSD: A Workbook for Men: Reduce Anxiety and Take Charge of Your Life
by Lisa Campbell PhD (Author), Karie A. Kermath (Author), Henry L. Peterson Lt. Colonel (Foreword)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Circular
We're told if the economy is growing, and if we keep producing, that's a good thing. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers explore circular systems that regenerate and re-use what we already have. Guests include economist Kate Raworth, environmental activist Tristram Stuart, landscape architect Kate Orff, entrepreneur David Katz, and graphic designer Jessi Arrington.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#504 The Art of Logic
How can mathematics help us have better arguments? This week we spend the hour with "The Art of Logic in an Illogical World" author, mathematician Eugenia Cheng, as she makes her case that the logic of mathematics can combine with emotional resonance to allow us to have better debates and arguments. Along the way we learn a lot about rigorous logic using arguments you're probably having every day, while also learning a lot about our own underlying beliefs and assumptions.