Coping Strategies Used for Combating Stress and Burnout: A Qualitative Study Among Sri Lankan Prison Officers

Nimali Wijegoonewardene
National STD/ AIDS Control Programme, Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka
Janaki Vidanapathirana
National STD/ AIDS Control Programme, Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka

Dimensions

Plum Analytics

Abstract

Coping strategies are specific methods used in managing the internal and external demands faced by individuals, which are found to be going beyond their resources. This qualitative study aimed to describe the coping strategies adopted by Correctional and Rehabilitation Officers working in Sri Lankan prisons to reduce their stress and subsequent burnout. The study was carried out in 2017 in the Welikada Closed Prison and Badulla Remand Prison. Twenty prison correctional and rehabilitation officers participated in in-depth interviews. Officers with experience of more than two years in the prison setting were included. Both officers with and without burnout were selected based on the findings of a previous component of the study, with one rehabilitation officer and nine correctional officers from each category. A semi-structured in-depth interview guide was used. Thematic analysis was carried out. Both male and female officers between 23 and 55 years participated in the interviews. Some of the common problems leading to stressful situations were increased workload with additional and irrelevant duties expected from them, poor relationships with superiors, colleagues and inmates and poor support and pressure from the superiors. Six themes were extracted from the content discussed during the interviews. These were discussing with others as a means of seeking support, positive thinking, avoidance of the situation, distraction by involving in other activities, deviating the stress to others and trying to remove or reduce the stressor. Some of the participants thought they needed to learn better ways of coping with the occupational stress and burnout. Many of them believed that workshops on stress management need to be included in their continuous training. The high rank prison officials responsible for the welfare of prison officers were informed of the findings following the study, in order for them to make necessary improvements at the institution and policy level.

Keywords

  • Coping strategies,
  • Stress,
  • Stressor,
  • Prison officers,
  • Positive thinking

References

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Volume 5, Issue 1, Year 2022

Published 2022-03-30

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