Total worker health® needs assessment to identify workplace mental health interventions in rural and urban jails

Lisa A. Jaegers, Syed Omar Ahmad, Gregory Scheetz, Emily Bixler, Saketh Nadimpalli, Ellen Barnidge, Ian M. Katz, Michael G. Vaughn, Monica M. Matthieu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Importance: Jail officers are an underserved population of public safety workers at high risk for developing chronic mental health conditions. Objective: In response to national calls for the examination of stressors related to the unique work contexts of correctional facilities, we implemented a pilot study informed by the Total Worker Health® (TWH) strategy at two urban and two rural jails. Design: Participatory teams guided areas of interest for a mixed-data needs assessment, including surveys with 320 jail officers to inform focus groups (N = 40). Setting: Urban and rural jails in the midwestern United States. Participants: Jail correctional officers and sheriff's deputies employed at participating jails. Measures: We measured mental health characteristics using the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Global Mental Health scale, the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale, and the two-item Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist. Constructs to identify workplace characteristics included emotional support, work-family conflict, dangerousness, health climate, organizational operations, effectiveness of training, quality of supervision, and organizational fairness. Results: On the basis of general population estimates, we found that jail officers were at higher risk for mental health disorders, including depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Jail officers identified workplace health interventions to address individual-, interpersonal-, institutional-, and community-level needs. Conclusion: Implementation of a TWH needs assessment in urban and rural jails to identify evidence-informed, multilevel interventions was found to be feasible. Using this assessment, we identified specific workplace health protection and promotion solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number036400
JournalAmerican Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We extend our appreciation and thanks to the officers, deputies, management, and staff at participating jails, including the City of St. Louis Division of Corrections, for their engagement in this study. We also thank Patrick Kelly and Paul Werth for data support. This research was supported in part by a pilot project grant from the Healthier Workforce Center (HWC) at the University of Iowa. The HWC is supported by Cooperative Agreement U19OH008868 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The contents of this article are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC, NIOSH, HWC, or participating jails.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Occupational Therapy


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