Sleep quality and mental disorder symptoms among correctional workers in Ontario, Canada


Correctional workers (CWs) report high levels of work stressors, frequent exposures to potentially psychologically traumatic events (PPTEs), and substantial mental health challenges. There is evidence of associations between sleep disturbances and diverse mental health challenges, including preliminary evidence from public safety personnel; however, replications and extensions would better inform interventions to support mental health. The current study was designed to examine associations between quality of sleep, work stress, and mental health disorders in a sample of diverse CWs employed in a provincial correctional service in Ontario, Canada. Data were analyzed from 943 CWs who participated in the cross-sectional, web-based Ontario Provincial Correctional Worker Mental Health and Well-Being Study conducted from December 2017 to June 2018. Sleep quality indicators included symptoms of insomnia, total hours of sleep per night on work nights and off-shift nights, number of days feeling rested per week, and overall sleep quality. Descriptive statistics, analyses of variance, correlational analyses, and logistic regression were used to examine relationships among sleep quality, stress of shift work, and mental health disorder symptoms. CWs slept an average of 6.0 h per night when working and 7.2 h during off-shift nights. CWs reported waking up feeling rested an average of 2.6 days per week and rated their overall quality of sleep in the fair to poor range. Many CWs (64.9%) screened positive for clinically significant symptoms of insomnia. There were also differences across occupational groups such that CWs working as correctional officers reported the most sleep problems. There were statistically significant relationships between insomnia and mental health disorder symptoms. Higher levels of stress from shift work were associated with worse sleep quality. CWs, especially those working as correctional officers in a provincial prison, reported many indicators consistent with poorer quality of sleep. Poor quality of sleep was also associated with work stress and mental health disorders.

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Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark Cite this article Ricciardelli, R., Taillieu, T.L., McElheran, M. et al. Sleep quality and mental disorder symptoms among correctional workers in Ontario, Canada. Sci Rep 14, 14963 (2024).