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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Job Burnout Among Jail Officers

Jaegers, Lisa A. PhD; Matthieu, Monica M. PhD; Vaughn, Michael G. PhD; Werth, Paul MS; Katz, Ian M. MS; Ahmad, Syed Omar PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: June 2019 - Volume 61 - Issue 6 - p 505–510
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001600

Objective: The aim of this study was to explore posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom prevalence and health characteristics among jail correctional officers, a generally understudied population of public safety workers.

Method: A Conservation of Resources (COR)-inspired framework explored relationships to PTSD symptoms among jail officers (N = 320) employed in Midwest US jails.

Results: More than half (53.4%) of jail officers screened positively for PTSD. Hierarchical regression analysis indicates that burnout was a significant predictor of symptoms of PTSD (B = 0.25, P < 0.001). Self-efficacy (B = −0.42, P < 0.01), emotional labor (B = 0.20, P < 0.01), and an anxiety- or depression-related diagnosis (B = 0.92, P < 0.001) remained significant predictors of PTSD-related symptoms in the final step.

Conclusions: Our findings highlight the potentially high prevalence and impact of PTSD among jail officers, and offer implications for public safety workplace health interventions.

Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Saint Louis University Doisy College of Health Sciences, Saint Louis, Missouri (Dr Jaegers and Dr Ahmad); School of Social Work, Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice, Saint Louis, Missouri (Dr Jaegers, Dr Matthieu, and Dr Vaughn); Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Department of Psychology, Saint Louis University College of Arts & Sciences, Saint Louis, Missouri (Mr Werth and Mr Katz).

Address correspondence to: Lisa A. Jaegers, PhD, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Doisy College of Health Sciences, Saint Louis University, 3437 Caroline Street, Allied Health Building, Suite 2020, St. Louis, MO 63140 (

This research was supported (in part) by a pilot project grant from the Healthier Workforce Center (HWC) at the University of Iowa. The HWC is supported by Cooperative Agreement No. U19OH008858 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The contents are solely the responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC, NIOSH, or the HWC.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2019 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine