Job demands, resources and mental health in UK prison officers

G. Kinman*, A. J. Clements, J. Hart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Research findings indicate that working as a prison officer can be highly stressful, but the aspects of work that predict their mental health status are largely unknown. Aims To examine, using elements of the demands-resources model, the extent to which work pressure and several potential resources (i.e. control, support from managers and co-workers, role clarity, effective working relationships and positive change management) predict mental health in a sample of UK prison officers. Methods The Health and Safety Executive Management Standards Indicator Tool was used to measure job demands and resources. Mental health was assessed by the General Health Questionnaire-28. The effects of demands and resources on mental health were examined via linear regression analysis with GHQ score as the outcome. Results The study sample comprised 1267 prison officers (86% male). Seventy-four per cent met 'caseness' criteria for mental health problems. Job demands, poor interpersonal relationships, role ambiguity and, to a lesser extent, low job control and poor management of change were key predictors of mental health status. Conclusions The findings of this study can help occupational health practitioners and psychologists develop structured interventions to improve well-being among prison officers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)456-460
Number of pages5
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number6
Early online date25 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Mental health
  • Occupational stress
  • Workplace stress


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