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Conditions Affecting Forensic Scientists' Workplace Productivity and Occupational Stress

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2018
2 pages
This fact sheet summarizes a NIJ-funded project that improved knowledge about the work stress and job satisfaction of forensic scientists who handle and collect evidence.
Previous studies of criminal justice professionals in law enforcement and correctional agencies indicate that individuals who report high levels of work-related stress generally have poor work performance, are less productive, and report negative physical and emotional symptoms. High work-related stress is also linked to low levels of job satisfaction, which reduces employees' organizational commitment and attitude toward their work. In order to examine this issue for forensic scientists, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) funded a study that surveyed 899 forensic scientists working in public and private laboratories at the federal, state, and local levels across the country. Survey results provide a better understanding of the work stress and job satisfaction of individuals who handle and collect evidence. Approximately 60 percent of scientists surveyed reported they were emotionally drained by their work; and 57.1 percent were frustrated by their jobs; just over 60 percent indicated they were under pressure and were tense at work. In examining the source of their work stress, just over half of the respondents felt pressured by police or prosecutors to work faster or longer in producing scientific results from evidence submitted. The amount of forensic scientists work-related stress is similar to that experienced by various other criminal justice professionals; however, 85.6 percent of respondents reported being either "somewhat" or "very" satisfied with their jobs, and 64.1 percent would take the same job again. The researchers offer four recommendations for laboratory managers in reducing lab personnel's work-related stress.

Date Published: April 1, 2018