This report presents findings from a federally supported study to provide a cost-effective education-based stress intervention program for probation officers within the Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections Department (HCCSCD), as well as resource material on the curriculum of the intervention program.
Few studies have been conducted on the stressful nature of the probation officer's job which is unique in that it requires greater long term contact with offenders, thereby creating a unique emotional stain and strain. Over the last several years, the Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections Department (HCCSCD) Training Branch has provided training courses focusing on stress-related issues. Supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, the HCCSCD developed an intervention program for both the probation officers and their families and that would be cost-effective and not require a significant commitment of time. A multidimensional approach was used to design a stress intervention program. It is an education-based stress intervention for probation officers and a member of their family, looking at education on stress, individual response to stress, organizational sources of stress, and communicating about the stress. The effectiveness of the study was assessed and demonstrated by a reduction in the level of burnout and increased knowledge about stress. Originally, the program included 86 officers from HCCSCD; however, only 31 completed all 4 of the training courses and all 3 assessments. Study findings of the program indicated that officers' level of burnout across three subscales of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment were all reduced post intervention. Analysis of the officers' knowledge about stress demonstrated statistically significant differences across assessments indicating the officers had increased their knowledge about stress. The program achieved its goal and serves as a pilot study. It holds promise in reducing stress and burnout, and through continued modifications, its impact may be greater. The report includes appendixes of the study survey and questionnaire and intervention program curriculum modules (education, individual, organizational, and communication). References
Date Published: January 1, 2003