Risk factors and coping strategies for occupational stress among prison officers in Nairobi county in Kenya
Occupational stress has been considered a major problem in the service industry. It affects the health of employees and also reduces the work productivity of an organization. It is predicted that by the year 2020, stress will be a major cause of workplace ill health in the world if no precaution is taken against the problem. Statistics indicate that majority of prison. officers, like most other workers, go through major stress. Limited studies have been done on risk factors and coping strategies for occupational stress among male and female prison officers. The current study sought to. investigate whether there are male and female differences with regard to experiencing of work-related stress, risk factors for occupational stress and coping strategies among male and female prison officers in Nairobi County. The study was guided by the Effort-Reward Imbalance theory which forms the basis of the study.The study used descriptive survey design.The target population for the study were the prison officers in all the 6 prisons in Nairobi County. Multistage sampling approach, combining purposive sampling for prisons and stratified random sampling for prison officers was used to obtain the required sample of 114 respondents. A questionnaire was used to collect data which was analyzed using descriptive statistics. Frequencies, percentages and graphs were used to present the data. The study provided data on risk factors and coping strategies for occupational stress specific for male and female prison officers in Nairobi County prisons. The study found that majority of prison officers were stressed in the work place due to occupational stress or sand this affected their social life, health and productivity. Sharing of houses was highly reported by the prison officers as the major risk factor causing high occupational stress closely followed by housing conditions, working under pressure, availability of job promotions, risking being injured on the job, and working conditions. As much as positive coping strategies are used by majority of the prison officers, the study findings indicate that there are a large number of prison officers who use negative coping strategies for occupational stress such as taking a lot of alcohol, drug abuse and peddling, absenteeism from work while others are in perseverance of the stress. According to the study fmdings, majority of the officers felt that causes of occupational stress can be alleviated through several measures such as improving working conditions, increasing the number of houses, avoiding pressure to juniors, providing counselling services, and time management.The data may be useful to policy makers and implementers in the prisons department by providing evidence that may inform the development and implementation of policies focusing on the unique needs of both male and female prison officers with regard to prevention and reduction of stress.