From 2006 to 2011, CPH-NEW investigators studied physical and mental health of public sector correctional officers. We documented a steady progression of chronic disease risk factors within the first five years of employment, leading to obesity/overweight, hypertension, physical inactivity, high levels of depression, and poor sleep and nutritional habits.
Using these findings as ground work, the HITEC II study tested new types of participatory interventions to explore how correctional facilities can promote better musculoskeletal fitness, weight management, and safety for officers. COs and CO supervisors were engaged in varying program design efforts to develop customized programs, policies, and facility improvements. For example, Kaizen design events were compared with the CPH-NEW IDEAS design process for feasibility and effectiveness of safety and health interventions.
One HITEC II participatory intervention that showed promising health outcomes was the CO Peer Health Mentor Program. The inspiration for this program followed from the HITEC I results which showed marked declines in CO health in the first 3 years of employment. The CO peer health mentor program paired trained, experienced COs with new CO recruits in the Training Academy, then facilitated regular peer interactions for a period of one year. Mentors guided new recruits as they both learned the ropes and dealt with job conditions impacting health. HITEC II evaluation of the program showed that introducing preventive health promotion for new recruits can help correctional officers avoid early, important declines in health.
Read more about the results of the HITEC I and HITEC II studies.
Visit the HITEC Study website at the University of Connecticut Health Center.