Date Presented 04/22/2023
Belonging is important for addressing worker well-being and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Using a participatory approach with focus groups, public safety workers in prison settings described their experiences and suggestions related to belonging.
Primary Author and Speaker: Catherine M. Kiaupa
Additional Authors and Speakers: Drashti Topiwala, Lisa Jaegers
PURPOSE: Belonging increases well-being and mitigates stressors among employees [1; 2]. Stress and trauma are significant issues of public safety workers, especially those in prisons . This study aimed to identify prominent belonging challenges of correctional workers and consider solutions to foster belonging.
DESIGN: This qualitative study used participatory action research to develop questions and perform focus groups at randomly selected prison workplaces.
METHOD: A participatory prison system executive team selected focus group questions from existing resources that explored employee challenges and suggestions about belonging, bias, microaggression, microinequity, and special advantage . Focus groups were completed at 6 sites (N = 53, employing 8,400) across a Midwest state. There were 3 prisons, 2 probation and parole districts, and 1 transition center. Virtual focus groups were audio-recorded and transcribed to explore themes. Transcripts were independently coded by 2 researchers and thematic analysis was performed with a 3rd rater.
RESULTS: A total of 9, one-hour focus groups were completed out of 10. There were a total of 47 participants with an average of 5 participants per focus group. The focus groups were primarily represented by non-custody staff and the daytime shift. Out of all the challenges, the most notable was ‘belonging,' with the most prominent theme being negative experiences and suggestions related to belonging. Non-custody staff had more suggestions related to belonging and negative experiences, while custody staff had more positive experiences coded.
CONCLUSION: ‘Belonging' is especially important for workplace diversity, equity and inclusion; and for guiding workplace health research and interventions.
IMPACT STATEMENT: This study provides an overview of the challenges and need for more assessment to implement occupational therapy belonging-focused interventions that can support the emotional needs of correctional workers.
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Roberts L. W. (2020). Belonging, respectful inclusion, and diversity in medical education. Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 95(5), 661–664. https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0000000000003215
Finney, C., Stergiopoulos, E., Hensel, J., Bonato, S., & Dewa, C. S. (2013). Organizational stressors associated with job stress and burnout in correctional officers: A systematic review. BMC Public Health, 13(82), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-13-82