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Relationship between trauma, psychological distress and help-seeking among corrective service workers.

BACKGROUND: Corrective service workers (CSWs) are at high risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health problems. Prevalence rates and help-seeking behaviours are under-researched within this population.

AIMS: To assess rates of PTSD and distress, and identify predictors of intention to seek help, among workers at an Australian corrective service agency.

METHODS: A cross-sectional online survey was used to collect data on staff demographics, employment, PTSD symptoms and current distress. Participants received a tailored feedback report including referral to relevant mental health services (where applicable) and were asked to indicate their likelihood of seeking help. Prevalence data are reported. Binary logistic regression was used to examine relationships between participant characteristics and help-seeking for those with probable PTSD and/or high psychological distress.

RESULTS: Participants (n=1001) were predominantly men (56.8%) with a mean age of 46.72 (SD=11.00). Over half (58.0%) were classified as probable PTSD cases, and one-third (33.0%) were experiencing high psychological distress. Around a third (34.3%) of participants with probable PTSD and/or elevated distress indicated they were likely to seek help. Older age and fewer years of service were associated with increased help-seeking intentions.

CONCLUSIONS: CSWs were found to be experiencing probable PTSD at higher rates than reported in previous studies. Relatively few intended to seek help from mental health services, despite being provided with personalised screening and feedback along with access to specialised care. Future research should investigate the potential role of organisational support as a facilitator of help-seeking within this population.

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