Date of Completion
Janet Barnes-Farrell, Martin Cherniack
Field of Study
Master of Science
Most of the existing research on corrections officers (COs) has focused on stress and burnout as well as the organizational factors that contribute to these outcomes. Recent studies have also revealed that COs are more likely to be obese and hypertensive than the general population. Studies not specific to corrections provide evidence that overtime hours are associated with poor employee health, and the present study aimed to address this general lack of research on the potential health impacts of overtime hours for COs. More specifically, this study investigated whether the effect of healthy behaviors on health and wellness outcomes changed, depending on how much overtime work COs engaged in. Health and wellness data were collected for COs (N= 202) at two correctional facilities using three different methods: surveys, physical assessments and continuous overtime data. The use of continuous overtime data is rare in the overtime literature, particularly when the data are collected objectively rather than through self-report methods. Therefore, this study used a measure of overtime that is both more accurate and precise than that typically found in earlier studies of overtime.
Hierarchical linear regression models were used to test the hypotheses that the amount of overtime hours worked would moderate the beneficial effect of healthy behaviors on health outcomes. The healthy behaviors examined were physical activity, healthy eating and healthy sleep hygiene. The assessed health outcomes were physical strength, body fat composition, depressive symptoms, and burnout.
The beneficial effect of healthy sleep hygiene on burnout was moderated by the number of overtime hours worked in a typical week. Essentially, the effect of healthy sleep hygiene on burnout lost its beneficial impact when COs worked on average more than three shifts of overtime in a week. No other moderated relationship between healthy behaviors and health outcomes was found, in large part because many of the healthy behaviors examined had significant direct effects on health. Surprisingly, overtime did not have a direct effect on any of the health outcomes, nor was it associated with any of the healthy behaviors. More research is needed to replicate these findings and also to determine how to limit overtime or schedule overtime in ways that will allow COs to fully benefit from healthy sleep hygiene as a means to prevent burnout.
Tubbs, Diana C., "Overtime Work Hours, Health Behaviors and Health Outcomes for Correctional Officers: An Examination of Moderated Effects" (2016). Master's Theses. 994.