Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Shelley R Keith
An estimated 2.3 million people are currently incarcerated in the United States (Sawyer and Wagner, 2020). As a result, mass incarceration has created job opportunities managing and overseeing facilities that house justice involved individuals. Given the high prevalence of aggressive and violent behavior, exposure to trauma is inevitable in correctional settings. In addition to traumatic exposure and response symptoms, correctional security staff report experiencing job-related burnout at high rates, resulting in quick turnover. After surveying a sample of 288 correctional staff from two state departments of correction, the current study used a moderated mediation path analysis to examine the role of coping strategies and psychopathic personality traits in buffering the relationship between trauma exposure, trauma symptoms, and burnout. It was hypothesized that trauma symptoms would mediate the relationship between trauma exposure and burnout such that more exposure would lead to an increase in trauma symptoms and subsequently more burnout. Additionally, it was hypothesized that this relationship would be moderated by the three separate variables: approach-based coping, avoidant-based coping, and psychopathic personality traits. Results showed positive relationships between trauma exposure, trauma symptoms, and burnout were positively related. No support was found for approach-based coping styles or psychopathic personality traits as mitigating factors in this linear relationship. However, consistent with the literature, avoidant-based coping was associated with higher levels of trauma symptoms and burnout. From these findings, correctional facilities can train officers in other methods for coping with trauma that will be more effective and reduce the risk of burnout.
Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest
Pringer, Sarah M., "Combatting the Impact of Trauma and Occupational Burnout Among Correctional Officers: The Role of Coping Mechanisms and Psychopathic Personality Traits" (2023). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 3010.