• unlimited access with print and download
    $ 37 00
  • read full document, no print or download, expires after 72 hours
    $ 4 99
More info
Unlimited access including download and printing, plus availability for reading and annotating in your in your Udini library.
  • Access to this article in your Udini library for 72 hours from purchase.
  • The article will not be available for download or print.
  • Upgrade to the full version of this document at a reduced price.
  • Your trial access payment is credited when purchasing the full version.
Buy
Continue searching

The relationship of perceived stress and self-efficacy among correctional employees in close-security and medium-security-level institutions

Dissertation
Author: Kimbrley D. Clark
Abstract:
  The occurrence of work-related stress in corrections facilities is increasingly important because of safety concerns, the authoritarian environment, understaffing, and the nature of the clientele served. Only a limited amount of empirical research has examined the relationship between different correctional security levels (e.g., closed versus medium security), perceived stress, self-efficacy, and gender among correctional employees. Self-efficacy, derived from the social learning theory, was used as the theoretical model in this study. The purpose was to examine the relationship of self-efficacy and perceived stress for differences between close security and medium security level institutions and between gender. A convenience sample of 118 correctional employees completed self-administered surveys. Perceived stress, as measured by the Perceived Stress Scale, and self-efficacy, as measured by the General Perceived Self-Efficacy Scale, were used to examine the statistical predictive relationships. A multiple regression analysis and analysis of covariance were used to analyze the data. It was hypothesized that after controlling for length of time, there would be no significant difference between security levels, perceived stress, self-efficacy, and gender. Findings indicated that perceived stress and security levels significantly predicted self-efficacy, and self-efficacy negatively predicted perceived stress. Close security employees had higher perceived stress than did medium security employees. There were no significant gender differences. The implications for social change lie in the provision of stress management programming for correctional employees. Stress reduction would directly improve issues with safety, retention of personnel, absenteeism, and work satisfaction.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of Tables ..................................................................................................................... vi List of Figures ................................................................................................................... vii CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY ...........................................................1 Background ......................................................................................................................... 1 Statement of the Problem .................................................................................................. 10 Purpose of the Study ......................................................................................................... 12 Research Questions and Hypotheses ................................................................................ 13 Theoretical Base................................................................................................................ 14 Definitions......................................................................................................................... 15 Study Strengths ................................................................................................................. 16 Assumptions and Limitations ........................................................................................... 17 Summary ........................................................................................................................... 20 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ...........................................................................21 Organization of the Review .............................................................................................. 21 Different Views of Stress .................................................................................................. 22 Social Learning Theory..................................................................................................... 26 Sources of Stress ............................................................................................................... 32 Role Conflict ..................................................................................................................... 32 Role Ambiguity ................................................................................................................. 34 Outcome of Stress ............................................................................................................. 35 Security Levels.................................................................................................................. 36 Summary ........................................................................................................................... 38 CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY .....................................................................................40 Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 40 Research Design, Approach, and Analysis ....................................................................... 41 Instrumentation ................................................................................................................. 43 Participants ........................................................................................................................ 45 Procedure .......................................................................................................................... 46 Data Collection ................................................................................................................. 47 Summary ........................................................................................................................... 47 CHAPTER 4: RESULTS ..................................................................................................49 Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 49 Data Analysis .................................................................................................................... 49 Reliability .......................................................................................................................... 50

v

Correlations ....................................................................................................................... 51 Descriptive Statistics ......................................................................................................... 51 Results ............................................................................................................................... 53 Analysis of Hypothesis ..................................................................................................... 54 Summary ........................................................................................................................... 66 CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION .............................................................................................68 Overview ........................................................................................................................... 68 Purpose of the Study ......................................................................................................... 68 Interpretation of the Findings............................................................................................ 69 Implications for Social Change ......................................................................................... 72 Limitations ........................................................................................................................ 73 Recommendations for Action ........................................................................................... 74 Recommendation for Further Study.................................................................................. 74 Summary and Conclusion ................................................................................................. 75 REFERENCES ..................................................................................................................79 APPENDIX A: PERCEIVED STRESS SCALE ..............................................................84 APPENDIX B: GENERAL PERCEIVED SELF-EFFICACY SCALE ...........................85 APPENDIX C: DEMOGRAPHICS QUESTIONS ......................................................... 86 APPENDIX D: STATEMENT OF INFORMED CONSENT...........................................87 APPENDIX E: APPROVAL FOR PSS ............................................................................88 APPENDIX F: GRAFTON CORRECTIONAL APPROVAL ........................................90 APPENDIX G: LORAIN CORRECTIONAL APPROVAL .............................................91 APPENDIX H: MANSFIELD CORRECTIONAL APPROVAL .....................................92 APPENDIX I: NORTH CENTRAL CORRECTIONAL APPROVAL ...........................93 APPENDIX J: RICHLAND CORRECTIONAL APPROVAL .......................................94 APPENDIX K: TRUMBULL CORRECTIONAL APPROVAL ......................................95 CURRICULUM VITAE ....................................................................................................96

vi

LIST OF TABLES Table 1. Reliability of Scales ..........................................................................................51 Table 2. Descriptive Statistics of Questiannaires ...........................................................52 Table 3 . Regression Results of Perceived Stress and Length of Employment ...............55 Table 4. Analysis of Variance for Perceived Stress Scale and Length of Employment .56 Table 5. Coefficients .......................................................................................................57 Table 6. Regression of Generalized Self-Efficacy and Length of Employment .............58 Table 7. Analysis of the Generalized Self-Efficacy and Length of Emploment ............58 Table 8 . Coefficients of the Generalized Self-Efficacy ..................................................59 Table 9. Regression of Generalized Self-Efficacy, Length of Employment, and Perceived Stress Scale .......................................................................................60 Table 10. Anaylsis of the Generalized Self-Efficacy , Length of Employment, and Perceived Stress ................................................................................................61 Table 11 . Coefficients of the Generalized Self-Efficacy ..................................................62 Table 12. Regression for Perceived Stress, Length of Employment, and Generalized Self-Efficacy .....................................................................................................63 Table 13. Regression of Perceived Stress Scale, Length of Employment, and Gender ...64 Table 15. Regression of Perceived Stress Scale, Length of Employment, and Generalized Self- Efficacy ....................................................................................................65 Table 16 . Coefficients of Perceived Stress Scale, Length of Employment, and Generalized Self- Efficacy ................................................................................66

vii

LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. Bar graph showing inmate-on-staff assaults in Ohio by years. From ODRC Annual Report, 2007. ...............................................................................................6 Figure 2. Bar graph showing inmate-on-inmate assaults in Ohio in 2007. From ODRC Annual Report, 2007. ...............................................................................................7

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY Background The penal system is a place where individuals are housed for their crimes. Individuals convicted of felonies are kept in prisons to serve their sentence for their convictions. Employees are hired to work in these correctional facilities, and most are custody staff who maintain safety and order. The criminal justice system has grown tremendously over the years and has created some problems, including stress, for employees who work in these facilities. Most research on stress in the criminal justice system has been limited to law enforcement and not correctional personnel. This study was designed to fill the gap in literature by examining correctional employees and their perceived stress, self-efficacy, and security levels (i.e., close and medium). Employees who work in corrections are often viewed negatively, due in part to movies that portray the corruption of correctional employees, such as Tango and Cash or The Shawshank Redemption, and show employees supervising inmates through force and fear (Shaffer, 1999). Books also have been written that paint a negative view of employees that work in prison are people who like to have power over others. These negative views embarrass correctional employees, who often deny where they work (Shaffer, 1999). There has been a shift in the barbarous treatment of prisoners to more of a social service model. Prior to the 1900s, prisoners were held in correctional facilities with no social programs (Roberts, 2000). They basically served their sentence and were released to the community with no rehabilitation. Prisoners were released into the community with no skills and ended their sentences no better off than when they went to prison. This

2

created the need for a change to produce a more productive citizen upon release. These changes affected how the prison system operated and benefited the inmates more than staff. Changes that took place in the 20 th century were the development of organizations that attempted to improve prison operations. Organizations were created such as the American Correctional Association (ACA) and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), which created standards for employees. Politics controlled the prisons until reforms changed the way prisons were operated (Roberts, 2000). The state legislatures were allowed to appoint employees until the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) was created in 1937 to oversee federal prisons across the country. The BOP developed the civil service procedure for new hires, which became a more standard procedure in prisons across the country replacing the appointment system (Roberts, 2000). The procedure made it fair for everyone to be hired into the prison through the use of testing and creating qualifications. Along with a change in hiring procedure came a change in terminology. Where employees were previously referred to as guards, they came to be referred to as officers. Training programs were initiated for employees instead of using on-the-job training. The American Correctional Association created standards so all correctional employees received the same training. These training programs were made available throughout the year to keep employee training current. These organizations, ACA, NIJ, NIC, and BOP, were created in the 20th century and designed to reorganize the entire prison structure (Roberts, 2000). The BOP usually was the first to change, with states following suit. Prisoners were being separated by age

3

and type of crime to prevent violent criminals to be separated from nonviolent offenders. Prisons were also being built differently to include dorm style arrangements for less violent crimes. These dorm-style arrangements provided a less restricted environment. Reception centers were being built to accept new offenders and to orientate and classify them according to their crime. Before the change, no one was separated based on their crime, and less violent offenders were amongst the violent offenders. These changes helped alleviate some problems with the prison system, but stress remained a problem (Roberts, 2000). Reforms that took place in the middle of the 20 th century allowed the development of programming for prisoners, especially work assignments (Roberts, 2000). Prisoners were used as a source of work for local projects such as community service, Habitat for Humanity, and speakers for local schools. But as the population of prisoners was growing, work assignments were hard to fine. Many assignments were monotonous and unworthy. The prison system developed the penal industry, which provided work to prisoners with little effect on the economy. These are still in use with today’s prisons. The penal industry was found to be beneficial because the work kept the prisoners busy, and it also provided a service to government agencies. The work programs added responsibilities for correctional officers since they now had to keep track of these inmates (Roberts, 2000). Another change was in the oversight of the prisons. In the early 20 th century, wardens had the ultimate power and controlled every aspect of the prison (Shaffer, 1999). Prior to the 20 th century, inmates were at the mercy of the warden and correctional staff.

4

Inmates listened to the correctional staff even if the information was wrong so that they received no negative consequences for failing to follow the directions. The BOP developed rules and regulations on how the penal systems were to be operated. The National Institute of Corrections was established in 1972 and funded by the BOP (Roberts, 2000). The NIC was focused on training and professionalism in the penal systems. With all of the changes in the 20 th century, employees became more and more stressed. Prisons are paramilitary in nature with impersonal environments with the hierarchy of military culture (Ortega, Brenner, & Leather, 2007). In the past, many officers were hired who had a military background because of their toughness image that would help them adapt to the environment. What this created was an atmosphere of machismo attitudes and individuals who do not ask for help (Morgan et al., 2002). The new hires today do not necessarily have a background in the military, but may be individuals who are already stressed out before they get to work. The stress is obvious when staff have conflicts with coworkers or inmates. The external stressors compound the issue for staff while at work by acting inappropriately or making poor decisions. The historical efforts that took place in the 20 th century resulted in a prison confinement more personable, which is not how correctional staff members were trained. The attitude toward crime and punishment was changing to help prisoners to become better individuals than when they came into the system. Changes from the paramilitary attitude to more friendly attitudes were resistant among custody staff. These practices have led to stress and frustration among correctional employees. They now have more

5

rules and policies to follow and are told to have a social service attitude when dealing with inmates. The number of correctional institutions in the United States today is far greater than 20 years ago. The numbers of correctional employees grew as well as the number of prisoners (Finn, 2000). Two million people are currently incarcerated in the United States, which is 25% of the world’s total incarcerated population (Fix, 2001). In Ohio, there were fewer than 10 prisons in the 1980s, and now there are 32 state correctional institutions (Finn, 2000). As the inmate population grows, so does the level of stress for correctional employees. Correctional employees are public employees who serve to protect society and should not be subjected to overwhelming stress if it can be prevented or reduced (Finn, 2000). The potential danger of working in a prison has been studied and found to be a significant cause of stress for employees (Triplett, Mullings, & Scarborough, 1996). Critical incidences such as assaults and stabbing interfere with employees’ ability to function, and typically create significant stress among those involved. If stress is not addressed, people may eventually develop secondary problems such as medical issues, drug abuse, as well as psychological and relationship problems (Triplett, Mullings, & Scarborough, 1996). Between 1990 and 1995 reported attacks on correction officers, in both state and federal prisons, rose over 33%, from 10,731 to 14,165 (Finn, 2000). Nationwide there were 58,300 violent incidences from 1992-1996. As these incidents increase, so does the stress of being in the prison environment. The threat of inmate violence against officers

6

and violence among inmates that has been reported by officers can also cause stress (Finn, 2000). In 2006, Ohio had 48,534 incarcerated inmates; this number increased to 49,889 in 2007 (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Annual Report, 2007). The inmate population increases every year and fewer prisoners are being released. In Ohio alone in 2007, there were 22% open hand assaults (slaps) on staff, 18% were spit on, and 12% punched (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Annual Report, 2007). In 2006, 807 offenders assaulted 926 employees at 32 prisons (ODRC Annual Report). The total number for inmate-on-inmate assaults in 2004 was 466; 546 in 2005; and in 2006, 719 were reported. Figures 1 and 2 show the number of assaults on staff and inmates.

0 100 200 300 400 500 600 2004 2005 2006 2007 Total Assaults

Figure 1. Bar graph showing inmate-on-staff assaults in Ohio by years. Information from the ODRC Annual Report, 2007, p. 44.

7

0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 2004 2005 2006 2007 Total Assaults

Figure 2. Bar graph showing inmate-on-inmate assaults in Ohio in 2007. Information from the ODRC Annual Report, 2007, p. 51.

. In spite of previous research demonstrating that prison work itself is extremely stressful, not much has been done to help alleviate stress for correctional staff. For example, a study by Van Hoorhis et al. (1991) on different security levels found that at maximum-security level institutions, correctional staff experiences greater levels of stress than lower level security institutions. However, Lasky et al. (1986) found that staff members who work in different security levels had no differences in reported stress level. There are many studies related to correctional staff, but they have inconsistent results or are focused on job characteristics (Lambert, et al., 2007). Thus, more research is needed in corrections on stress.

8

Both inmates and staff are stressed, and as the population of those incarcerated continues to grow, the problem of stress levels worsens. Inmates have programs designed to help them learn how to cope with stress (Morgan, Van Haveren, & Pearson, 2002). However, a correctional staff has limited resources. Since the prison environment is perceived as tough and dangerous, attitudes are developed to adapt to the environment. Staff may sometime fail to seek out services to help during times of stress since it is viewed as a weakness (Morgan et al., 2002). Appearing weak is unacceptable (Spinaris, 2006). Other reasons for stress are flat time, mandatory sentencing, and increased sanctions for drug offenses. In the past if the inmate exhibited good behavior, an early release was possible. Once the Senate Bill 2, Truth in Sentencing, was passed, inmates were no longer given a range, which eliminated their chance of early release. They were given instead a specific number of years to serve, or flat time. Now, there is no motivation to promote good behavior for inmates. It is not rewarding for an inmate to exhibit good behavior while incarcerated, which also increases stress for correctional employees. There are different kinds of stressors, such as psychological and emotional. Some symptoms of psychological stress are depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, while absenteeism, poor job performance, and drug abuse can depict symptoms of emotional stress. Stress is the relationship between an individual and the environment and is perceived by the individual as exceeding the resources available (Senol-Durak, Durak, & Gencoz, 2006).

9

Burnout is also an issue an issue among correctional employees. According to Morgan et al. (2002), burnout is the result of feeling ineffective and powerlessness. Burnout often occurs when employees feel overwhelmed and their effectiveness as correctional personnel is decreased (Morgan et al., 2002). Individuals suffering from burnout may also have symptoms of psychological and physical complaints similar to emotional stress. Self-efficacy is part of the social learning theory that regulates the emotional responses in a situation (Bandura & Locke, 2001). People’s beliefs in their own coping capabilities affect how much stress they perceive in threatening situations. Self-efficacy is one’s belief in his/her ability to perform a given behavior and guide whether the individual will begin behavior (Nauta, Kahn, & Angell, 2002). The prediction is employees at close-security prisons will view their environment as more stressful; they should yield higher scores on the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). The PSS is a scale of 10 questions that measure the level of individual’s perceived stress. Medium-level security employees may also view their environment as stressful, and this study was designed to examine that correlation. Nauta, Kahn, and Angell (2002) and Bandura and Locke (2001) stated that self-efficacy beliefs control behavior through cognitive, motivational, affective, and decisional processes. Correction officers are three times more likely to commit suicide than to be killed on the job (Childress et al., 1999). Correction officers had a 7.14% rate for suicides in 1990 compared to the national average of 4.51% for the working population (Stack & Tsoudis, 1997). Stress, in part, can contribute to suicides due to employees not seeking

10

out help when stressed or not knowing where to go. Thomas (2006) discussed how difficult it is for correctional employees to seek out help because of the reigning “macho” attitude. The employees seeking help would be viewed as weak, and is not condoned in the correctional employee world. Statement of the Problem Correctional personnel experience a great deal of stress at work each day (Finn, 2000), and the problem is compounded for corrections with the increasing inmate population and the decreasing budget. There is more violence, understaffing, poor public images, mandated overtime, and problems between coworkers. With nowhere to go for help, employees quit their jobs, retire early, or may take a leave of absence. Without resources to make one feel in control of the situation, according to the social learning theory, self-efficacy decreases. As self-efficacy decreases, the perceived stress increases. Employees with higher levels of personal resources such as self-efficacy, optimism, and self-esteem are better able to handle stress in a positive way (Xanthopoulou, Bakker, & Demerouti, 2007). Correctional employees who have high levels of personal resources are less likely to have stress and are better to handle stressful environments. Unclear is the extent to which self-efficacy scores predict an employee’s perceived stress. Correctional employees conduct the same work whether they are at a medium or close-level institution. It is important to understand the differences in security levels and the role of stress on employees. Security levels, for which the inmates are housed, are based on the seriousness of their crime. This study analyzed correctional employees who have worked in the correctional system for 2 years or less. According to Boswell et al.,

11

(2009), employee attitudes are affected with time-on-the-job because individuals change over time. Past research has indicated that length of employment may have a significant effect on stress (Rousseau, et al., 2009). By controlling for the length of employment, other variables are excluded such as politics, attitudes, and job experience. Norvell, Hills, and Murrin, (1993) provided a study with females and males and stress. The study included law enforcement officers and not correctional personnel. The study revealed that female officers did not report higher levels of stress than did male officers. There is no such research on women and correctional personnel. Thus, in this study gender was examined to reveal if there are reported differences between perceived stress and self-efficacy. The study measured both close and medium institutional security levels and how they play a role in the level of stress that correctional employee may experience. It was designed to examine whether just working in a prison itself is stressful, or whether the security level of the institution is a factor. The study examined the extent to which higher security levels are more stressful to employees than lower security levels. Self-efficacy was examined as a predictive factors for employee’s perceived stress and vice or versa. More research is needed to understand the relationship between gender, self-efficacy, and stress among employees in the penal system. It is common to have some work stress in all occupations, but correctional employees have the added perceived dangerous environment and traumatic event components (Senol-Durak, Durak, & Gencoz, 2006). More attention is given to law enforcement stress when compared to correctional employee stress (Childress, Talucci, &

12

Wood, 1999). Few studies have compared the stress levels and self-efficacy of employees at different levels of security. Little research (Lasky et al. 1986; Van Voorhis et al. 1991) has been done to examine security levels of correctional institutions and reported stress from those employees. The penal system is impersonal and unfriendly (Ortega, Brenner, & Leather, 2007), and at times line staff do not receive accurate or prompt information from management due to the chain of command. The correctional staff on occasion witness injury to others or death, or may be assaulted themselves. This type of experience can traumatize staff and make the environment stressful. Employees who are stressed may believe they have nowhere to go for help and may use negative behaviors to cope, such as using drugs or other risky behaviors. The higher the security level, the more violent the offenders are and the potential for harm is evident. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to quantitatively evaluate the relationships of perceived stress, gender, and self-efficacy between prison security levels to help understand and explain the inconsistent findings in previous research. As stated earlier, this study was not designed to examine the causal factors of perceived stress for correctional employees but to examine how the different environments serve to predict self-efficacy and stress. A Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) will measure the stress reported by the correctional employees. The General Perceived Self-Efficacy (GSE) will measure generalized self-efficacy. The prediction is that correctional staff at higher security levels will report more stress and lower self-efficacy than lower-security-level institutional

13

employees. The data analysis will be two-tailed because it will be important to know if lower security is more stressful. Both male and female employees are included in this study and gender will be examined to see if there is a difference. The results will address the need for further understanding of previously studied variables that have produced inconsistent results with regard to security levels. Research Questions and Hypotheses The following research questions are examined in this study: 1. After controlling for length of employment, to what extent does the security levels and perceived stress predict self-efficacy for correctional employees? Can self- efficacy from the GSE scores and security level be predicted? 2. After controlling for length of employment, will females report higher stress levels than males between close and medium security levels? Is there a difference in gender? 3. After controlling for length of employment, do individuals with higher self- efficacy view their environment as less stressful between close and medium security levels? Can stress from the PSS scores and security level be predicted by their self- efficacy scores? Hypothesis H01: After controlling for length of employment, there will be no difference between security levels and perceived stress and self-efficacy by correctional employees.

14

Ha1: After controlling for length of employment, there will be a difference between security levels and perceived stress and self-efficacy by correctional employees. H02: After controlling for length of employment, security levels and stress will not be significant predictors of self-efficacy for correctional employees. Ha2: After controlling for length of employment, security levels and stress will be significant predictors of self-efficacy for correctional employees. H03: After controlling for length of employment, security levels and self-efficacy will not be significant predictors of perceived stress for correctional employees. Ha3: After controlling for length of employment, security levels and self-efficacy will be significant predictors of perceived stress for correctional employees. H04: After controlling for length of employment, women will not report higher levels of stress than males between close and medium security levels. Ha4: After controlling for length of employment, women will report higher levels of stress than males between close and medium security levels. H05: After controlling for length of employment, there will be no differences in reported self-efficacy between close and medium security levels. Ha5: After controlling for length of employment, there will be differences in reported self-efficacy between close and medium security levels. Theoretical Base Stress is a term that is commonly used and has various meanings. This study defines stress as a psychological state of being that has been defined as a mentally or

15

emotionally disruptive and upsetting condition occurring in response to adverse influences and a stimulus or circumstance causing such a condition (Carlson & Thomas, 2006). Self-efficacy, derived from social learning theory, is the belief that individuals function through cognitive, motivational and decisional processes (Bandura & Locke, 2003). Perceived stress will be measured to determine how stressful correctional employees view their environment. Definitions Close-level-security is a level of supervision that requires less than maximum but more than medium. Restricted inmate movement and housing are usually doubled cells (Finn, 2000). Correctional institution for this study is a state facility that holds incarcerated individuals for convicted crimes. Correctional employee is any person who works in a correctional institution for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Annual Report, 2007). Flat time is a definite time given for an inmate to serve in prison for the crime (Finn, 2000). General Perceived Self-Efficacy (GSE) is a 10-item Likert-type self reporting scale that is used to assess perceived self efficacy of individuals (Jersalem & Schwarzer, 1995)

16

Medium-level-security is a level of supervision that is less than close but more than minimum. Usually dorm style housing and more inmate movement with less supervision (Finn, 2000). Perceived stress is the self perceived abilities and confidence to deal with the environmental demands (Cohen, 1986). Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) is a 10-item Likert-type self-reporting scale that is used to assess perceived stress of individuals (Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, (1983). Self-efficacy is defined as one’s belief in his/her ability to perform a given behavior and guide whether the individual will begin behavior (Nauta, Kahn, & Angell, 2002). Study Strengths An important strength of this study is to provide further understanding of the relationship of previously studied variables on correctional employee stress and tenure on the job by focusing on security levels. There is a paucity of research examining stress and security levels within the correctional system. It is important to predict perceived stress between security levels to understand the employees and their perceptions to find ways to reduce stress. The length of time on the job was controlled as a confounding factor. Doing so reduced other variables that can affect employee’s perceptions of their work environment, such as politics and burnout. The analysis described the relationships between perceived stress and self-efficacy and security levels so conditions can be improved at the institutions to benefit the organization by providing stress management

Full document contains 109 pages
Abstract:   The occurrence of work-related stress in corrections facilities is increasingly important because of safety concerns, the authoritarian environment, understaffing, and the nature of the clientele served. Only a limited amount of empirical research has examined the relationship between different correctional security levels (e.g., closed versus medium security), perceived stress, self-efficacy, and gender among correctional employees. Self-efficacy, derived from the social learning theory, was used as the theoretical model in this study. The purpose was to examine the relationship of self-efficacy and perceived stress for differences between close security and medium security level institutions and between gender. A convenience sample of 118 correctional employees completed self-administered surveys. Perceived stress, as measured by the Perceived Stress Scale, and self-efficacy, as measured by the General Perceived Self-Efficacy Scale, were used to examine the statistical predictive relationships. A multiple regression analysis and analysis of covariance were used to analyze the data. It was hypothesized that after controlling for length of time, there would be no significant difference between security levels, perceived stress, self-efficacy, and gender. Findings indicated that perceived stress and security levels significantly predicted self-efficacy, and self-efficacy negatively predicted perceived stress. Close security employees had higher perceived stress than did medium security employees. There were no significant gender differences. The implications for social change lie in the provision of stress management programming for correctional employees. Stress reduction would directly improve issues with safety, retention of personnel, absenteeism, and work satisfaction.