PTSD is as prevalent among prison guards as it is among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and more prevalent than it is among police officers, found a study by two researchers.
With sweltering units, remote locations, and low pay, Texas prisons have long struggled with high officer turnover and vacancy rates. Based on findings from a study in Washington state, there could be another factor impacting officer retention in corrections: post traumatic stress disorder, the Houston Chronicle reports. A study in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that PTSD is as prevalent among prison guards as it is among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and more prevalent than it is among police officers. Co-authored by Lois James of Washington State University and Natalie Todak of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the research relied on surveys sent to several thousand corrections employees in Washington state. Of the more than 300 who responded, 19 percent met the criteria for PTSD.
James says researchers found that prison workers “were getting massively insufficient sleep – we also found very high rates of insomnia. And quite high rates of nightmares.” She added that, “Most of the people in the sample have witnessed pretty severe suffering.” Black prison employees and women were at significantly higher risk for PTSD, James said. “We also found that greater time on the job was predictive of greater PTSD. And, interestingly, being assigned to night shift was associated with less PTSD,” she told the Chronicle. “In policing, night shift work tends to be associated with greater problems.”