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Management of Stress in Corrections - Participant's Handbook

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1979
137 pages
This participant's handbook to a workshop on management of stress in corrections presents information, skills, and strategies to help administrators develop plans for identifying and remedying such stress-caused problems as employee disability, alcoholism, drug abuse, and troubled inmate-staff relations.
The handbook was designed as part of a series of research utilization workshops in the 1979-80 cycle of the National Criminal Justice Research Utilization Program. Participants included State corrections department administrators, wardens and superintendents of major State adult correctional institutions, personnel and training officers, midlevel and line officers, and State planning agency corrections specialists. Before designing the 12-session workshop, developers surveyed 37 correctional agencies to determine perceived causes and outcomes of stress among officers, information needs regarding stress, and administrative responses. This survey is discussed in the first session, and its findings are reflected in the workshop content. Major stressors are identified as role conflict, role ambiguity, lack of communication, racial problems, inmate grievances, physical threat from inmates, and loss of autonomy. Reactions to stress are physiological (changes in metabolism with implications for all major organ systems), psychological (fatigue, anxiety, sleeplessness), and behavioral (distancing mechanisms such as indifference to others and intellectualization of problems). Long-term consequences can include depression, absenteeism, and staff burnout. Bodily disorders such as cardiovascular disease and arthritis may also result, as well as drug abuse, aggression, and suicide. Various individual and organizational responses to stress are identified, and adaptive (problem solving) responses are differentiated from maladaptive responses (those which tend to perpetuate stress) in the overall context of the organization. Finally, concluding sessions address design and implementation of strategies for stress prevention. A strategy profile is presented as a tool for identifying priorities for organizational intervention in stress, and functions and persons within an organization that can constitute appropriate points for intervention are noted. An alcohol prevention treatment program is used as an example of a force-field model of stress intervention in the prison environment. Data on the workshop design team, a list of conference participants, the results of the preworkshop survey, charts, and worksheets are presented.

Date Published: January 1, 1979