Female corrections officer

Health Improvement Through Employee Control II (HITEC II), also known as the UConn Department of Correction (DOC) study, is a continuation of a study that begun seven years ago called “HITEC I.” In HITEC I, the health and wellness of correctional staff was assessed along with two different methods of health promotion interventions. HITEC II is an intervention study that builds on the findings of our previous work and consists of a mentoring program for new recruits and two different participatory intervention activities. The study is planned to run until August 2016.

An interesting finding about the health of correctional staff was that, while new officers began their careers physically fit, within their first three years on the job their health deteriorated to a level similar to that of an officer who had been on the force for 15 or more years. Their rates of high blood pressure, obesity and depression were comparable to more experienced officers. These findings raised the questions, “Why does this occur?” and “Can something be done in those first years that could help prevent this deterioration in health?”

To address these questions, HITEC II implements two interventions with new officers: a Web-based education site that provides information and self-paced learning modules about health and wellness, and a mentor program, which pairs a senior officer with a new officer. The mentor’s role is not to teach the new officer the job but rather to assist the new officer in developing healthy ways of handling the stressors of the job.

HITEC I compared two types of health promotion efforts: a top-down, “best practices” approach, and a participatory approach in which correctional officers designed the interventions. Because the participatory approach proved to be the better one, HITEC II expands on it. The officer-lead intervention program stays in place while a new approach is introduced. This new approach, “Kaizen,” brings together correctional officers, facility management and DOC management to address the issues of nutrition, fitness, on-the-job injury and ergonomics. They will work intensely for a few months to develop and implement a program to address each of the target areas. The officer-led approach, however, has more flexibility. The research study will determine which approach works best at the Connecticut DOC.

Design Team

The Design Team is based at Cheshire Correctional Institution (Cheshire CI) and is open to any non-supervisory staff member who is interested in improving the health and well-being of correctional staff, concentrating on four main areas: working environment, nutrition, fitness and safety.

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Kaizen Team

In the HITEC II Study, the Kaizen approach is being used at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Facility. A team composed of correctional officers, the warden and deputy warden, maintenance, a Department of Administrative Services representative and UConn study team members are participating in four Kaizen events that will continue for the next three years.

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Health Mentoring

The HITEC II Mentoring Program compares two approaches to health mentoring: the standard and the personalized approaches. People in both groups engage in brief physical tests, fill out questionnaires and have access to customized health information.

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2014 National Symposium on Corrections Worker Health

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Roundtable Discussion Summaries

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