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    New psychoactive substances, safety and mental health in prison officers

    Kinman, Gail and Clements, A. (2021) New psychoactive substances, safety and mental health in prison officers. Occupational Medicine 71 (8), pp. 346-350. ISSN 0962-7480.

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    Background: The use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in UK prisons is believed to have increased substantially. As well as posing a significant threat to prisoners’ health, NPS use can trigger violent, unpredictable, and aggressive behaviour. Dealing with the direct and indirect effects of NPS therefore has the potential to compromise the physical and psychological safety of prison staff. Aims: This study investigates prison officers’ perceptions of NPS use in their workplace and their risk of exposure. Relationships between NPS exposure, the workplace safety climate and mental health were also examined. Methods: We assessed prison officers’ perceptions of the prevalence of NPS use among prisoners in their workplace, their personal exposure and the safety climate in their institution through an online survey. The General Health Questionnaire-12 measured mental health. Descriptive statistics were used to assess officers’ perceptions of NPS use in their workplace and their personal exposure and correlations examined relationships between variables. Results: The sample comprised 1,956 prison officers (86% male). Most respondents (85%) highlighted NPS as a serious cause for concern in their institution. Two-thirds (66%) reported being personally exposed to NPS at least sometimes, with 22% being exposed once a day or more. Significant relationships were found between officers’ perceived NPS exposure, assessments of safety climate and self-reported mental health. Conclusions: Our findings highlight the need for urgent action to reduce the use of NPS among prisoners. This is likely to improve the safety climate of UK prisons and the mental health of staff.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication following peer review. The version of record is available online at the link above.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Mental health, new psychoactive substances, occupational health, prisons, safety climate
    School: School of Business, Economics & Informatics > Organizational Psychology
    Research Centres and Institutes: Sustainable Working Life, Centre for
    Depositing User: Gail Kinman
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2022 11:48
    Last Modified: 06 Nov 2022 01:10


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