Introduction: Knowledge about the factors that contribute to the correctional officer's (CO) mental health and well-being, or best practices for improving the mental health and well-being of COs, have been hampered by the dearth of rigorous longitudinal studies. In the current protocol, we share the approach used in the Canadian Correctional Workers' Well-being, Organizations, Roles and Knowledge study (CCWORK), designed to investigate several determinants of health and well-being among COs working in Canada's federal prison system.
Methods and analysis: CCWORK is a multiyear longitudinal cohort design (2018-2023, with a 5-year renewal) to study 500 COs working in 43 Canadian federal prisons. We use quantitative and qualitative data collection instruments (ie, surveys, interviews and clinical assessments) to assess participants' mental health, correctional work experiences, correctional training experiences, views and perceptions of prison and prisoners, and career aspirations. Our baseline instruments comprise two surveys, one interview and a clinical assessment, which we administer when participants are still recruits in training. Our follow-up instruments refer to a survey, an interview and a clinical assessment, which are conducted yearly when participants have become COs, that is, in annual 'waves'.
Ethics and dissemination: CCWORK has received approval from the Research Ethics Board of the Memorial University of Newfoundland (File No. 20190481). Participation is voluntary, and we will keep all responses confidential. We will disseminate our research findings through presentations, meetings and publications (e.g., journal articles and reports). Among CCWORK's expected scientific contributions, we highlight a detailed view of the operational, organizational and environmental stressors impacting CO mental health and well-being, and recommendations to prison administrators for improving CO well-being.
Keywords: anxiety disorder; cohort; correctional officer; depression; longitudinal; mental health disorder; occupational stress injuries (OSIs); occupations; organisations; panic disorder; posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); posttraumatic stress injuries (PTSI); prison; public safety personnel (PSP); stressors; training; well-being.
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