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Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2014 May;87(4):387-95. doi: 10.1007/s00420-013-0877-6. Epub 2013 Apr 23.

Prevalence and associated factors of depressive symptoms among Chinese male correctional officers.

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  • 1Department of Social Medicine, School of Public Health, China Medical University, No. 92 Beier Road, Heping District, Shenyang, 110001, Liaoning, People's Republic of China.



Chinese correctional officers (COs) consist of frontline COs in direct contact with the prisoners and non-frontline COs (including administrative staff and professionals). Male COs compose the majority of Chinese COs, especially for frontline COs. Although they are quite susceptible to depressive symptoms due to highly risky and stressful working environment, few studies focus on this issue. This study aimed to evaluate the prevalence of depressive symptoms and to explore its associated factors among Chinese male frontline and non-frontline COs.


This cross-sectional study was performed during the period of March/April 2011. The study population comprised of 1,900 male COs in four male prisons in a province of northeast China. A questionnaire including the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, demographic factors, work conditions, effort-reward imbalance questionnaire was distributed to these COs. A total of 1,494 effective respondents became our subjects (981 frontline COs and 513 non-frontline COs). Frontline and non-frontline COs were analyzed separately.


Approximately 61.4% of Chinese male COs had depressive symptoms (63.5% in frontline COs and 57.3% in non-frontline COs). Multivariate logistic analyses showed that effort-reward ratio, overcommitment, chronic disease, and threat perception were associated with depressive symptoms in frontline and non-frontline COs, whereas weekly work time had an effect only in frontline COs.


Chinese male COs, especially frontline COs, might have high-level prevalence of depressive symptoms. Moreover, this study had identified important risk factors that might be important in planning strategies for prevention and intervention of depressive symptoms for Chinese male COs.

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