24 Oct 2023
by Dr Jeffrey Pfeifer Ph.D., M.Leg.St.

ICPA2023-PID022 - Jeffrey Pfeifer

Perceived Occupational Adversity and the Wellbeing of Community Corrections Officers: International Findings

This presentation presents the findings from a study aimed at increasing our empirical understanding of the wellbeing challenges facing community corrections officers. To gain more detailed insight into this issue, 216 community corrections officers from four countries (Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United States) completed a survey which included the Perceived Occupational Adversity Scale (POAS), a Perceived Stress Scale, and items relating to perceptions of overall professional adversity as well as intentions to leave the profession. The POAS is a 36-item scale which provides a diagnostic indication of the specific six work-related challenges that are most negatively impacting community corrections officers (i.e. client management, risk/safety, perceptions of success, professional acknowledgement, working in a multi-system environment, and dual responsibility). Results indicate that there is a clear relationship across all four countries between POAS scores, perceived stress and the degree to which community corrections officers have considered leaving the profession. Further analysis indicates that although the work-related challenges represented in the POAS were acknowledged as negatively impacting the wellbeing of community corrections officers, the “profile” (i.e. the ranking of the six challenges) differs across countries. In addition to providing an empirical picture of the wellbeing journey for community corrections officers (i.e. POAS > Stress > Intention to Leave Profession), the results of this study also highlight the importance of ensuring that wellbeing intervention programs are informed through a diagnostic tool such as the POAS to ensure that the intervention is responsive to the perceived challenges of the target group.