Objective: Describe health risks/obstacles to health among correctional employees.
Methods: Mixed-methods approach combined results from four focus groups, 10 interviews, 335 surveys, and 197 physical assessments.
Results: Obesity levels were higher than national averages (40.7% overweight and 43.3% obese), with higher levels associated with job tenure, male gender, and working off-shift. Despite widespread concern about the lack of fitness, leisure exercise was higher than national norms. Respondents had higher levels of hypertension than national norms, with 31% of men and 25.8% of women hypertensive compared with 17.1% and 15.1% for national norms. Stress levels were elevated. Officers related their stress to concerns about security, administrative requirements, and work/family imbalance. High stress levels are reflected in elevated levels of hypertension.
Conclusions: Correctional employees are at high risk for chronic disease, and environmental changes are needed to reduce risk factors.