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Talking About Health: Correction Employees' Assessments of Obstacles to Healthy Living

Morse, Tim PhD; Dussetschleger, Jeffrey DDS, MPH; Warren, Nicholas ScD, MAT; Cherniack, Martin MD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2011 - Volume 53 - Issue 9 - p 1037–1045
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182260e2c

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.

From the Center for Promoting Health in the New England Workplace, UConn Health Center, Farmington, Conn.

Address correspondence to: Tim Morse, PhD, Occupational/Environmental Health Center, MC 6210, UConn Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030 (

©2011The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine