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Title: Critical incidents on the front-line: occupational health considerations for probation officers
Authors: Olesen-Schinke, Erin
Keywords: occupational health and safety;front-line worker;psychosocial hazard;probation officer;probation work;occupational critical incident;grounded theory;compassion fatigue;burnout;vicarious trauma;occupational trauma exposure;critical incident stress debrief;critical incident stress management
Issue Date: 14-Dec-2018
Abstract: Probation officers (PO) are considered part of the broader criminal justice system and are tasked with supervising offenders within a community setting. POs are guided by identified deliverables of maintaining public safety, fostering offender rehabilitation, and ensuring court ordered sanctions are enforced (Pitts, 2007). The organizational climate of probation work requires these goals be achieved within the confines of increasing workload and administrative demands, in conjunction with decreasing budgetary supports, coupled with a changing offender population who are regarded as increasingly more high-risk and multineed (Gonzales, Schofield & Hart, 2005; Pitts, 2007). Probation work is considered a highrisk occupation (Gonzales et al., 2005; Parsonage & Bushey, 1987). POs are exposed to direct trauma (Gonzales et al., 2005; Linder & Bonn, 1996; Lindner & Koehler, 1992; Parsonage & Bushey, 1987; Rapp-Paglicci, 2004) and indirect trauma (Lewis, Lewis & Garby, 2013; Severson & Pettus-Davis, 2011) within their workplace. Exposure to such occupational hazards can result in negative psychological impacts for POs (Lewis et al., 2012; Parsonage & Bushey, 1987). Front-line occupations such as police and fire services, emergency response, military, and correctional work have been notably studied within the research in relation to the occupational health risks associated with their employment (McFarlane & Bryant, 2007; O’Donnell & Stephens, 2001), yet probation work remains under investigated. This lack of knowledge about the contextual realities of probation work is significant considering the potential psychological impacts of probation work as experienced by POs (Gayman & Bradley 2013; Lewis et al., 2013; O’Donnell & Stephens, 2001; Severson & Pettus-Davis, 2011). Through this research I focused on investigating mental health outcomes for POs who have been exposed to a workplace critical incident (CI). The purpose of my study was to shed light on the phenomena of CIs and to better understand the numerous complexities associated with this phenomenon. The intersection of PO exposure to psychosocial occupational hazards and CIs and POs adaptations was investigated utilizing a grounded theory methodology.
Appears in Collections:Doctoral Theses
Human Studies and Interdisiplinarity - Doctoral Theses

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