Chronic Pain Among Prison Officers: Prevalence, Impact and Predictors of Pain-related Disability
J. Bogue1, E. Costello1, B. McGuire1,2
1National University of Ireland, School of Psychology, Galway, Ireland
2Centre for Pain Research, NUI Galway, Ireland
Background: Prison officers work in a unique and potentially hazardous environment and are a high-risk occupational group for physical ill health and psychological difficulties. They face an increased likelihood of assault leading to acute and chronic pain conditions. The present study examined the experience of chronic pain conditions among Irish prison officers with particular reference to psychosocial predictors of pain outcomes. Methods: 152 Irish prison officers took part in the study with 48% of participants reporting chronic pain as defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain. Findings: Of the respondents reporting chronic pain, 38% of participants met the criteria for ‘probable depression’ while 51% met the criteria for ‘probable anxiety disorder’. In regression analyses, depression emerged as a prominent predictor of poor pain outcomes, with higher symptom ratings associated with increased levels of reported pain severity and significantly greater pain related interference in their daily lives. Discussion: Chronic pain among prison officers appears to be a widespread and debilitating condition. Significantly, none of the participants in the present study had availed of any psychological therapies in managing their pain despite both the significant evidence-base in support of these treatments and the high levels of co-morbid psychological distress reported by the participants.