Date of Conferral







Alethea Baker


Correctional officers work in a volatile environment and are regularly exposed to inmates’ violence or cruelty. These factors negatively affect their job performance, contribute to physiological and mental health issues that could result in secondary traumatic stress (STS) symptoms. Researchers have identified job self-efficacy and alexithymia traits as mitigating factors against elevated stress. Other researchers have identified the traits as strongly associated with mental health illnesses. The purpose of this quantitative study, using a convenience sampling strategy, was to determine whether job self-efficacy and alexithymia traits were predictors of STS among a sample of 79 correctional officers working for Her Majesty’s Prison Services on a Western Caribbean island. The theoretical framework included the constructivist self-development theory and the social cognitive theory. Three established self-reported instruments were used: the Work Self-Efficacy Scale, the Toronto Alexithymia 20-Item Scale, and the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale (STSS). Multiple linear regression statistical analysis revealed that job self-efficacy and alexithymia traits were statistically significantly associated with STS. The results further revealed that the STSS scores of 23% of participants were in the STS range. The deterioration of mental well-being contributes to the disruption of job performance that could also negatively impact the organization. Stress management and problem-focused/emotion focused solution oriented skills training are effective in reducing the level of stress experienced. The implementation of these strategies may provide positive psychological benefits to officers and improve their job performance, in addition to reducing absenteeism and other costs for the prison service.