Correctional Officer Stress (COST) Study

Starting in 2017, I started a project, with my former colleague Ben Steiner, focused on the role of chronic stress exposure in the development of physical and mental health problems among corrections officers.  The project is funded by the National Institute of Justice(#2017-R2-CX-0032) to examine physiological and psychological responses to critical incidents among correctional officers at three prisons in Minnesota.  The longitudinal study spans three waves of onsite data collection in which we collected saliva samples to examine changes in stress responses (via salivary biomarkers) to critical incidents and other stressors across a 12-month period.  In addition to biomarkers, we also administered a detailed survey to capture mental health outcomes, individual perceptions of stress, institutional stressors, and other pertinent information.  Finally, in order to capture exposure to critical incidents we are using official incident reports to measure the severity of each incident as well as officer exposure and involvement   in a more accurate manner.  This project has the potential to provide a deeper understanding of the ways exposure to critical incidents may result in increased risk for physical and mental health problems, providing much needed information to both the academic and practitioner communities.