This study examined individual and work-level factors that impact job stress and satisfaction for correctional officers. Existing research has explored officer job stress and satisfaction, but very few studies have focused specifically on fear of contracting an infectious disease while at work (HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis), and the impact fear of and exposure to infectious disease have on correctional officer job stress and satisfaction. Random sample data were collected from 2,999 male and female officers from across the state of Texas to assess job stress, satisfaction, personal safety, and exposure to infectious disease. Ordinary Least Squares analyses indicated that fear of disease was positively correlated with job stress, and inversely correlated with job satisfaction. Exposure to disease however, failed to yield any significant effects on job stress or satisfaction. Officers who felt that their supervisors were supportive of them on the job reported less stress and higher satisfaction levels, while perceived dangerousness of the job was positively correlated with job stress. These findings highlight the importance of supervisory support as well as continuous, in-depth education and training on infectious diseases for officers.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Alarid, L. F., & Marquart, J. W. (2009). Officer perceptions of risk of contracting HIV/AIDS in prison: A two-state comparison. The Prison Journal, 89(4), 440–459.
Armstrong, G. S., & Griffin, M. L. (2004). Does the job matter? Comparing correlates of stress among treatment and correctional staff in prisons. Journal of Criminal Justice, 32, 577–592.
Ashforth, B. E., & Kreiner, G. E. (1999). “How can you do it?”: Dirty work and the challenge of constructing a positive identity. The Academy of Management Review, 24(3), 413–434.
Auerbach, S. M., Quick, B. G., & Pegg, P. O. (2003). General jobs stress and job-specific stress in juvenile correctional officers. Journal of Criminal Justice, 31, 25–36.
Beck, A. J., & Maruschak, L. M. (2004). Hepatitis testing and treatment in state prisons (NCJ 199173C). U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/httsp.pdf
Blevins, K., Cullen, F., Frank, J., Sundt, J., & Holmes, S. (2006). Stress and satisfaction among juvenile correctional workers: A test of competing models. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 44, 55–79.
Britton, D. M. (1997). Perceptions of the work environment among correctional officers: Do race and sex matter? Criminology, 35(1), 85–105.
Brough, P., & Williams, J. (2007). Managing occupational stress in a high-risk industry: Measuring the job demands of correctional officers. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 34(4), 555–567.
Byrd, T., Cochran, J., Silverman, I. J., & Blount, W. R. (2000). Behind bars: An assessment of the effects of job satisfaction, job-related stress, and anxiety of jail employees’ inclinations to quit. Journal of Crime and Criminal Justice, 23(2), 69–89.
Castle, T. L. (2008). Satisfied in the jail? Exploring the predictors of job satisfaction among jail officers. Criminal Justice Review, 33(1), 48–63.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2001). Drug use, HIV, and the criminal justice system. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/idu/facts/criminaljusticefactsheet.pdf
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2006). Prevention and control of tuberculosis in correctional and detention facilities. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 55(RR-09). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5509a1.htm
Cheek, F. E., & Miller, M. D. S. (1982). Reducing staff and inmate stress. Corrections Today, 44(5), 72–78.
Cheek, F. E., & Miller, M. D. S. (1983). The experience of stress for correction officers: A double-bind theory of correctional stress. Journal of Criminal Justice, 11, 105–120.
Cornelius, G. F. (1994). Stressed out: Strategies for living and working with stress in corrections. Laurel, MD: American Correctional Association.
Cullen, F. T., Link, B. G., Wolfe, N. T., & Frank, J. (1985). The social dimensions of correctional officer stress. Justice Quarterly, 2(4), 505–532.
Dennis, G. L. (1998). Here today, gone tomorrow: How management style affects job satisfaction and, in turn, employee turnover. Corrections Today, 60(3), 96–101.
Dillon, B., & Allwright, S. (2005). Prison officers’ concerns about blood borne viral infections. The Howard Journal, 44(1), 29–40.
Dollard, M. F., & Winefield, A. H. (1998). A test of the demand-control/support model of work stress in correctional officers. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 3(3), 243–264.
Ferguson, E. (1997). HIV/AIDS knowledge and HIV/AIDS risk perception: An indirect relationship. Work and Stress, 11, 103–117.
Finn, P. (1998). Correctional officer stress: A cause for concern and additional help. Federal Probation, 62(2), 65–74.
Garland, B. E., & McCarty, W. P. (2009). Job satisfaction behind walls and fences: A study of prison health care staff. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 20(2), 188–208.
Griffin, M. (2001). Job satisfaction among detention officers: Assessing the relative contribution of organizational climate variables. Journal of Criminal Justice, 29, 219–232.
Griffin, M. (2006). Gender and stress: A comparative assessment of sources of stress among correctional officers. Journal of Criminal Justice, 33, 611–625.
Griffin, M. L., Hogan, N. L., Lambert, E. G., Tucker-Gail, K. A., & Baker, D. N. (2010). Job involvement, job stress, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment and the burnout of correctional staff. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 37(2), 239–255.
Grossi, E. L., & Berg, B. L. (1991). Stress and job dissatisfaction among correctional officers: An unexpected finding. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 35(1), 73–81.
Grossi, E. L., Keil, T. J., & Vito, G. F. (1996). Surviving “the joint:” Mitigating factors of correctional officer stress. Journal of Crime and Justice, 19(2), 103–120.
Guerino, P., Harrison, P. M., & Sabol, W. J. (2011). Prisoners in 2010 (NCJ 236096). U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/p10.pdf
Hogan, N., Lambert, E., Jenkins, M., & Wambold, S. (2006). The impact of occupational stressors on correctional staff organizational commitment: A preliminary study. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 22(1), 44–62.
Honnold, J. A., & Stinchcomb, J. B. (1985). Officer stress: Costs, causes, and cures. Corrections Today, 47, 46–51.
Jennings, D. (2011, April 18). Texas prison system budget cuts stir up concerns. The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved from http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/texas-legislature/headlines/20110418-texas-prison-system-budget-cuts-stir-up-concerns.ece
Kamerman, J. (1991). Correctional officers and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome: Balancing professional distance and personal involvement. Death Studies, 15, 375–384.
Keeton, K. (2004). Aids education needs assessment: A comparative study of jail and prison correctional officers. Criminal Justice Review, 29, 341–357.
Krebs, C. P. (2002). High-risk HIV transmission behavior in prison and the prison subculture. The Prison Journal, 82(1), 19–49.
Lambert, E. G. (2001). To stay or quit: A review of the literature on correctional staff turnover. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 26, 61–76.
Lambert, E. G. (2004). The impact of job characteristics on correctional staff. The Prison Journal, 84, 208–227.
Lambert, E. G., Edwards, C., Camp, S., & Saylor, W. (2005). Here today, gone tomorrow, back again the next day: Absenteeism and its antecedents among federal correctional staff. Journal of Criminal Justice, 33, 165–175.
Lambert, E. G., & Hogan, N. L. (2009). The importance of job satisfaction and organizational commitment in shaping turnover intent: A test of a causal model. Criminal Justice Review, 34(1), 96–118.
Lambert, E. G., & Hogan, N. L. (2010). Wanting change: The relationship of perceptions of organizational innovation with correctional staff job stress, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. Criminal Justice Police Review, 21(2), 160–184.
Lambert, E. G., Hogan, N. L., & Barton, S. M. (2002). Satisfied correctional staff: A review of the literature on the correlates of correctional staff job satisfaction. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 29(2), 115–143.
Lambert, E. G., Hogan, N. L., Camp, S. D., & Ventura, L. A. (2006). The impact of work–family conflict on correctional staff: A preliminary study. Criminology & Criminal Justice, 6(4), 371–387.
Lambert, E. G., Hogan, N. L., & Tucker, K. A. (2009). Problems at work: Exploring the correlates of role stress among correctional staff. The Prison Journal, 89(4), 460–481.
Lambert, E. G., & Paoline, E. A. (2005). The impact of jail medical issues on the job stress and job satisfaction of jail staff: An exploratory study. Punishment & Society, 7, 259–275.
Lambert, E. G., & Paoline, E. A. (2008). The influence of individual, job, and organizational characteristics on correctional staff job stress, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. Criminal Justice Review, 33(4), 541–564.
Lindquist, C. A., & Whitehead, J. T. (1986). Burnout, job stress and job satisfaction among southern correctional officers: Perceptions and causal factors. Journal of Offender Counseling, Services and Rehabilitation, 10(4), 5–26.
Mahaffey, K. J., & Marcus, D. K. (1995). Correctional officers’ attitudes towards AIDS. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 22(2), 91–105.
Maruschak, L. M., & Beavers, R. (2009). United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. HIV in prisons, 2007–08 (NCJ 228307). Retrieved from http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/hivp08.pdf
Mathews, L. (2001). Officers personal safety. Corrections Forum, 10(2), 28–29.
McIntyre, D., Marquart, J. W., & Brewer, V. (1999). Toward an understanding of the perception of HIV/AIDS-related risk among prison officers. Journal of Criminal Justice, 27, 525–538.
McKee, K. J., Markova, I., & Power, K. G. (1995). Concern, perceived risk and attitudes towards HIV/AIDS in Scottish prisons. AIDS Care, 7, 159–170.
Mitchell, O., Mackenzie, D. L., Styve, G. J., & Gover, A. R. (2000). The impact of individual, organizational, and environmental attributes on voluntary turnover among juvenile correctional staff members. Justice Quarterly, 17(2), 333–357.
Pallant, J. (2007). SPSS survival manual (3rd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Paoline, E. A., Lambert, E. G., & Hogan, N. L. (2006). A calm and happy keeper of the keys: The impact of ACA views, relations with coworkers, and policy views on the job stress and job satisfaction of correctional staff. The Prison Journal, 86(2), 182–205.
Robinson, D., Porporino, F. J., & Simourd, L. (1997). The influences of educational attainment on the attitudes and job performance of correctional officers. Crime & Delinquency, 43, 60–77.
Rotily, M., Prudhomme, J., Pardal, M. S., Hariga, F., Iandolo, E., Papadourakis, A., et al. (2001). Knowledge and attitudes of prison staff toward HIV/AIDS: A European study. Sante Publique, 13, 325–338.
Ross, M. W., Diamond, P. M., Liebling, A., & Saylor, W. G. (2008). Measurement of prison social climate: A comparison of an inmate measure in England and the USA. Punishment & Society, 10(4), 447–474.
Saylor, W. G. (1984). Surveying prison environments. Unpublished research report, Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Slate, R. N., & Vogel, R. E. (1997). Participative management and correctional personnel: A study of the perceived atmosphere for participation in correctional decision making and its impact on employee stress and thoughts about quitting. Journal of Criminal Justice, 25(5), 397–408.
Spector, P. E., Dwyer, D. J., & Jex, S. M. (1988). Relation of job stressors to affective, health, and performance outcomes: A comparison of multiple data sources. Journal of Applied Psychology, 73(1), 11–19.
Stohr, M., Self, R., & Lovrich, N. (1992). Staff turnover in new generation jails: An investigation of its causes and prevention. Journal of Criminal Justice, 20, 455–478.
Tewksbury, R., & Higgins, G. E. (2006a). Examining the effect of emotional dissonance on work stress and satisfaction with supervisors among correctional staff. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 17(3), 290–301.
Tewksbury, R., & Higgins, G. E. (2006b). Prison staff and work stress: The role of organizational and emotional influences. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 30(2), 247–266.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Health Services. (2012). Statistical information on HIV/AIDS. Retrieved from http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/divisions/hs/health_aids_stats.html
Tracy, S. J., & Scott, C. (2006). Sexuality, masculinity, and taint management among firefighters and correctional officers: Getting down and dirty with “America’s heroes” and the “scum of law enforcement. Management Communication Quarterly, 20(6), 6–38.
Triplett, R., Mullings, J. L., & Scarborough, K. E. (1996). Work-related stress and coping among correctional officers: Implications from organizational literature. Journal of Criminal Justice, 24(4), 291–308.
Triplett, R., Mullings, J. L., & Scarborough, K. E. (1999). Examining the effect of work-home conflict on work-related stress among correctional officers. Journal of Criminal Justice, 27, 371–384.
Van Voorhis, P., Cullen, F. T., Link, B. G., & Wolfe, N. (1991). The impact of race and gender on correctional officers’ orientation to the integrated environment. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 28, 472–500.
Walters, S. (1993). Gender, job satisfaction, and correctional officers: A comparative analysis. Justice Professional, 7(2), 23–33.
Wright, T. A. (1993). Correctional employee turnover: A longitudinal study. Journal of Criminal Justice, 21, 131–142.
The authors wish to thank the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ-CID) for their assistance.
The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors, and do not represent officials from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Job Stress (Cronbach’s alpha 0.85)
When I’m at work, I often feel tense or uptight.
A lot of times, my job makes me very frustrated or angry.
I frequently feel stressed out on the job.
I usually feel that I am under a lot of pressure when I am at work.
There are a lot of aspects about my job that can make me pretty upset about things.
Most of the time when I am at work, I don’t feel that I have much to worry about (reverse coded).
Job Satisfaction (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.72)
If a good friend of mine told me he/she was interested in working as a CO, I would recommend the job.
My job measures up to the sort of job I wanted when I took it.
I am satisfied with my job.
If I were to go into any type of job I wanted, I would keep the job I now have.
Dangerousness of the Job (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.80)
My job is a lot more dangerous than other kinds of jobs.
I work in a dangerous job.
A lot of people I work with get physically injured in the line of duty.
There is really not much chance of getting hurt in my job (reverse coded).
In my job, a person stands a good chance of getting hurt.
Exposure to Infectious Disease (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.61)
On average, within the past 12 months, how often, if ever, have you experienced an exposure to blood or infectious bodily fluids introduced through the mouth, eyes, nostrils or unbroken skin (not including urine, stool or saliva unless visibly contaminated with blood)? (reverse coded).
On average, within the past 12 months, how often, if ever, have you gotten an inmate’s waste or bodily fluids (blood, semen, saliva) on your bare skin or clothing?
On average, within the past 12 months, how often, if ever, have you had an inmate throw bodily waste at you?
I feel that my supervisors are supportive of me and that the job I’m doing.
Fear of Disease
I am afraid that I will become infected with HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis while on the job.
About this article
Cite this article
Hartley, D.J., Davila, M.A., Marquart, J.W. et al. Fear is a Disease: The Impact of Fear and Exposure to Infectious Disease on Correctional Officer Job Stress and Satisfaction. Am J Crim Just 38, 323–340 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12103-012-9175-1
- Correctional officer
- Job stress
- Job satisfaction
- Infectious disease